NASA’s Voyager 1 is now floating beyond our solar system. It left these here parts about 10 years back now..
And since then, an intriguing event has been constantly beamed back to the earthlings fascinated by his venture into the deep dark unknown universe..

A hum.

A constant, strange hum.

“We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas,” said Stella Koch Ocker, a doctoral student at Cornell University who lead the research. “It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth.” For almost one billion miles, Voyager 1 could hear the monotone drone and the researchers believe these weak plasma waves are distinct from other detections made in the vast nothingness of interstellar space. For instance, sometimes the sun gets cranky and erupts, spitting particles out into space. The outbursts have a characteristic signature that James Cordes, an astronomer at Cornell, likens to a lightning burst. Those bursts were once used to determine the density of interstellar plasma, but this low, constant hum shows Voyager is collecting plenty of information without the solar outbursts. “Now we know we don’t need a fortuitous event related to the sun to measure interstellar plasma,” said Shami Chatterjee, a research scientist at Cornell and co-author on the paper.

It is so cool to think that Voyager 1 has been traveling since 1977. And this idea, this notion, that we don’t know what that weird hum is? Well that is awfully cool, too.

Sadly it may be a mystery so many alive today won’t be alive when we find out more information..

There will be another NASA mission set for the 2030s. Maybe. Perhaps that mission can start to put the puzzle together..

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The long history

Back in 1977, this is how the UPI reported the launch of this historic mission:

The fact it is still rolling through the outer limits of our imagine is just amazing. Yes we had a helicopter on Mars this year. But this craft launched in the Carter administration is still alive and well, feeling its way through the darkness to locate the hum of new existence.

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Cosmos Magazine reports this:

“It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” says Stella Koch Ocker, a doctoral student in astronomy at Cornell and lead author on the paper. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”

Ocker adds that this means the interstellar gas might be more active than scientists previously thought, as the gentle plasma hum Voyager 1 hears is fairly consistant behind bigger signals.

“The interstellar medium is like a quiet or gentle rain,” says senior author James Cordes, professor of astronomy at Cornell. “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.”