What do you think of when you hear the word “space?” Perhaps it is an endless black chasm, a cold and dark place, or a place with no motion where everything is silent.
NASA scientists have recorded a sort of background disturbance, kind of like a ‘hum’ in space. This was captured by the space probe Voyager 1, on one of its most distant space explorations. Scientists were baffled by what they heard, thinking of all the possible explanations for this mysterious hum. There are theories such as otherworldly beings and intelligent life forms like aliens trying to capture the attention of nearby planets such as Earth, or could it be something else—very ominous?
But there must be some logical explanation for this mysterious sound, right? The continous humming was detected by Voyager 1, but what exactly was causing this?
Course of Voyager 1
Voyager l left our solar system on August 25, 2012. Leaving our solar system means to dodge the Oort Cloud. The Oort Cloud, called the Öpik, was first described by Dutch astronomer named Jan Oort. This is the concept of ice particles and small pieces of space debris forming a cloud-like formation. At the time, passing through the solar system and the Oort Cloud was a very big achievement for NASA, but that wasn’t all what this big guy did. Voyager 1 also crossed the most distant human-made object, the heliosphere, where its path withstood the influence of the sun’s plasma.
Heliosphere and Voyager 1
Discoveries of the Voyager 1
Now that we know a bit about the course of Voyager 1, let’s get back to our big mystery, what was causing this humming effect? Well, experts and scientists say that Voyager 1 has uncovered waves vibrating in interstellar space, and it found that these vibrations are being released as small amounts of gases found in the black chasm of space.
Voyager 1 has also sent measurements of the interstellar medium. This is the measurement between stars of our galaxy containing types of materials called ionized materials. They are the simple version of a substance, or a molecule. This measurement is in the state of being electrically charged plasma, or in other words, ionized plasma. This is something that is unstable, or can change very quickly, in unmeasurable amounts.
This research was led by an expert named Stella Ocker. Dr. Stella Ocker was able to identify and decipher the data Voyager 1 has sent to them. This was especially neat, because at that point, this space probe was approximately 23 billion kilometers away! Dr. Stella Ocker concluded, “If we could hear (the hum), it would sound like a single steady note, playing constantly but changing very slightly over time.”
What does all this mean?
The NASA Voyager 1 crew were very thrilled to announce that it was the first time they were able to make out anything like this, and they were shocked to hear this monotonous voice. Even so, there was more that had to be figured out to understand the cause of this hum and the measurement of this material in interstellar space. Dr. Ocker added, “This detection offers us a new way to measure the density of interstellar space and opens up a new pathway for us to explore the structure of the very nearby interstellar medium.”
This was an exciting time for science, because everything scientists had first predicted and hypothesized about space could completely change. Dr. Ocker’s findings can help understand more about how this measurement of interstellar medium and solar winds connect and interplay with one another.
So… think we’ve got our answer? You bet! Turns out, it was nothing about otherworldly beings trying to communicate with us, but the shining ball of fire in our solar system– yes, our very own sun! The hum must have been the plasma vibrating in a peculiar way due to the sun flares. These eerie sounds were caused by the vibrations in sun flares.
What will happen to Voyager 1?
In the near future, this space probe will be another floating object in outer space, as it was designed to last for 50 years. It is very cool to think about how much information and scientific discoveries were made because of this little guy.
Voyager 1 is believed to last from around 300 years in the Oort cloud and it is estimated that this probe will take 30,000 years to pass through it! Can you believe that? Ah! The wonders of space! Voyager 2 has been sent out too! But to know about Voyager 2, well, you’ll have to wait.
How can I get more information about this hum?
If you are very curious about this hum and want to know more about it, then you can surely check out the Works Cited section! There are very cool NASA information, videos, and informational websites!
Like all things in life, it is time that we let something else step into play. Who knows? Maybe another mysterious voice will be detected by another space probe? We will just have to wait and find out. Until then, keep an eye and ear out up there!
Spacecraft in space
Lynn, Bryan. Learning English. May 16th, 2021. September 17th 2021. NASA Spacecraft Detects a ‘Hum’ in Interstellar Space
NASA Science. February 4th, 2021. September 17th, 2021. In Depth l Voyager 1
NASA Science. June 6th, 2019. September 17th, 2021. Overview l Oort Cloud
“Deep Space isn’t Quiet, We know it Hums.” YouTube, uploaded by Bright Side, September 8th, 2021 https://youtu.be/E7ChjTCq02Q
Images are from Royalty-free website Pixabay