NASA’s Voyager spacecraft may be billions of miles away and over 40 years old, but they’re still making significant discoveries, as new research reveals.
A paper published today in the Astronomical Journal describes an entirely new form of electron burst, a discovery made possible by the intrepid Voyager probes. These bursts are happening in the interstellar medium, a region of space in which the density of matter is achingly thin. As the new paper points out, something funky is happening to cosmic ray electrons that are making their way through this remote area: They’re being reflected and boosted to extreme speeds by advancing shock waves produced by the Sun.
By itself, this process, in which shock waves push particles, is nothing new. What is new, however, is that these bursts of electrons are appearing far ahead of the advancing