An artist's concept illustrates the positions of the Voyager spacecraft in relation to structures formed around our Sun by the solar wind.
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Voyager Approaches Final Frontier

An artist's concept illustrates the positions of the Voyager spacecraft in relation to structures formed around our Sun by the solar wind. Also illustrated is the termination shock, a violent region the spacecraft must pass through before reaching the outer limits of the solar system. At the termination shock, the supersonic solar wind abruptly slows from an average speed of 400 kilometers per second to less than 100 kilometer per second (900,000 to less than 225,000 miles per hour). Beyond the termination shock is the solar system's final frontier, the heliosheath, a vast region where the turbulent and hot solar wind is compressed as it presses outward against the interstellar wind that is beyond the heliopause. A bow shock likely forms as the interstellar wind approaches and is deflected around the heliosphere, forcing it into a teardrop-shaped structure with a long, comet-like tail.

The exact location of the termination shock is unknown, and it originally was thought to be closer to the Sun than Voyager 1 currently is. As Voyager 1 cruised ever farther from the Sun, it confirmed that all the planets are inside an immense bubble blown by the solar wind and the termination shock was much more distant.

Image details

ID#:
PIA04927

Date added:
2003-12-12

Mission:
Voyager

Spacecraft:
Voyager 1

Rating:



Views:
2,421

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA04927.tif (0.6 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA04927.jpg (0.03 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL/Walt Feimer