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Craft traveling beyond solar system detects hum emanating from deep space

Voyager 1
Posted at 1:48 PM, May 12, 2021

Researchers say that a NASA spacecraft currently traveling beyond the solar system has detected a constant hum emanating from deep space.

According to a new research study published Monday, the faint but constant vibrations were recorded by Voyager 1, a spacecraft launched by NASA in 1977 that’s still operational and sending signals back to Earth.

Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter and Saturn in 1979 and 1980, and has continued its journey into the final frontier. In 2012, scientists confirmed that probe had left the heliosphere and entered interstellar space.

Though it is now 14 billion miles away from Earth, Voyager 1 continues to send signals back to NASA. Throughout the years, NASA has received audio recordings of gas emissions from the deep regions of outer space.

However, according to a study published Monday in Nature Astronomy, researchers have now detected a faint hum in between those gas emissions.

According to a press release from Cornell University, Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell doctoral student in astronomy, discovered the humming.

“It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Ocker said, according to a press release. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”

“The interstellar medium is like a quiet or gentle rain,” said senior author James Cordes, the George Feldstein Professor of Astronomy (A&S) in the Cornell press release. “In the case of a solar outburst, it’s like detecting a lightning burst in a thunderstorm and then it’s back to a gentle rain.”

Researchers hope that further studying the emissions will help scientists understand the heliosphere and the conditions of the interstellar environment.