Ever since it left Earth 41 years ago, the Voyager 2 spacecraft has sailed across the solar system on a stream of energetic particles from the sun.

But on Nov. 5, the whistling of the solar wind abruptly stopped.

Voyager had crossed the heliopause, where the river of solar particles meets the vast ocean of interstellar space. It is now beyond the bubble of our sun’s influence, NASA announced Monday.

For the second time, a human-made object has ventured into the void between the stars.

Its companion probe, Voyager 1, crossed that threshold in 2012. But Voyager 2 still possesses a working plasma instrument. This allows the spacecraft to sense a different kind of charged particle, called galactic cosmic rays.

After decades of looking at the galaxy “through the clouded lens of our heliosphere,” NASA physicist Georgia de Nolfo said, “we’re now able to take a step outside with Voyager and contemplate the vistas of our local galactic neighborhood.”

The spacecraft is about 11 billion miles from Earth – so far it takes signals traveling at the speed of light 16.5 hours to reach mission control.


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