63 years ago, after more than 200 years of rapid development of science and technology, human beings finally realized the dream of flying to the sky, went out of the earth and began to explore the universe. When human beings walk out of the earth, the first question that comes to mind is: is human being lonely in the universe? Does alien civilization exist?
In fact, this problem has been understood at the moment when mankind walked out of the earth. Most people believe that alien civilization exists, and for cosmologists and astronomers, there is no doubt about it. There is a high probability that alien civilization exists in the universe. If we want to make this conjecture come true, we need to really find the evidence of the existence of alien civilization.
There are two main ways to search for the existence of alien civilization. One is to search for possible signals of alien civilization in the universe through radio telescopes. If we can find the signals here and crack them, then the evidence of the existence of alien civilization will be found.
Another way is to send a probe outside the solar system. If you are lucky enough, you may be able to discover alien civilizations. Scientists take a two handed strategy, constantly searching for cosmic wireless signals, at the same time, they also plan to send interstellar probes to the vast outer solar system.
In 1977, scientists launched Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, both of which are shouldering the task of searching for alien civilization and heading towards the vast depths of the universe. Voyager spacecraft is the most advanced interstellar probe at that time. It not only carries advanced camera equipment, but also has a CD recording human information and earth coordinates.
If Voyager flies out of the solar system, it is very lucky to be discovered by the alien civilization, and then the alien civilization captures Voyager. Through the CD above, it can know the existence of the earth and human beings, and it can easily come to the solar system and the earth according to the earth coordinates left above. At that time, mankind may have the first third contact with alien civilization.
Although the launch time of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 is almost the same, there is a big gap between their departure time from Qingyang wind layer. Voyager 1 left the solar cloud and entered interstellar space as early as August 25, 2012. Voyager 2 did not leave the solar wind layer until December 10, 2018.
Why did the two detectors leave the solar wind layer six years later? In fact, the reason for all this is not that Voyager 2 is not as fast as Voyager 1. Their speed is almost the same. The main reason is that Voyager 2 has more missions than Voyager 1. Voyager 1 basically has no other missions, starting from the earth and heading directly to the edge of the solar system.
Voyager 2, on the other hand, had a more exciting journey. First, it met Jupiter on July 9, 1979, Saturn on August 25, 1981, Uranus on January 24, 1986, and Neptune on August 25, 1989. Every time Voyager 2 passes a planet, it will stop and take a lot of precious photos.
It is through these precious data that scientists have a better understanding of many planets on the edge of the solar system. It can be said that although Voyager 2 is lagging behind, it is the most valuable detector in human history. Later, Voyager 2 left the solar wind layer on December 10, 2018, becoming the second probe to enter interstellar space.
What’s more, Voyager 2 also sent back precious data before and after it reached the edge of the solar system and crossed the solar wind layer. Scientists were very happy to see these data. You know, although human beings have been out of the earth for more than half a century and have explored the moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and other celestial bodies, our understanding of the edge of the solar system is almost blank.
In particular, we know nothing about the nature of the top layer of the heliosphere at the edge of the solar system and its interaction with interstellar space. As we all know, the solar wind is the supersonic plasma charged particle flow emitted from the upper atmosphere of the sun at the speed of 200-800 km / s. Solar wind, also known as stellar wind, is a bubble blown out by the solar wind in the interstellar medium, which is called the solar circle.
The farthest boundary that the solar wind can reach in the interstellar medium is called the heliospheric top, which is also called the solar wind top. When Voyager 1 arrived at the top of the heliosphere at the edge of the solar system in 2012, the radius of the top of the heliosphere was 120 astronomical units and the thickness was 0.5 astronomical units. This is the first time that humans have a preliminary understanding of the top of the solar wind.
The heliopause is the outermost structure of the solar system and the boundary between the heliosphere and interstellar space. Scientists always want to understand what events will happen before and after the detector passes through the screen. You know, according to the current data, Voyager’s speed has slowed down significantly after it reached the edge of the solar system, as well as some other special phenomena.
These peculiar phenomena are actually an effect of the interaction between the top layer of the heliosphere and the interstellar space material. We need to understand this effect, otherwise human beings may encounter some risks when they are carrying people through the top layer of the heliosphere in the future. Voyager 2 collected a lot of data about the interplanetary wind, the interaction between the interplanetary wind and the solar wind in the process of crossing the top of the heliosphere.
These data play an important role for scientists to understand the real situation of the solar system edge. From these data, scientists understand that the interaction between the interplanetary wind and the solar wind is very complex and dangerous. It may cause great damage to the detector and even human body.
We all know that the solar wind and the interstellar wind are actually cosmic rays. Under normal circumstances, the interstellar wind in the interstellar space is very stable, and the solar wind is also stable in the solar system. But once the two interact, it’s like pouring water into hot oil, which will instantly boil and produce a very big reaction.
Therefore, it is also risky for the probe to pass through the top layer of the heliosphere. Once it passes, the interstellar space will be very stable. And because of the rarer distribution of interstellar space material, the speed of the spacecraft can also be faster. At present, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have entered interstellar space. If all goes well, they will arrive in the solar system’s neighbor biling Galaxy in tens of thousands of years.
Of course, it will take tens of thousands of years to reach the nearest star system to the solar system, which is far away from us now. From this we can see how vast the universe is and how backward human science and technology are. Speed is the most important factor that restricts human exploration of the universe. Only when we achieve sub light speed flight, can we initially become an interstellar civilization and explore the galaxies around the solar system.
In fact, when our understanding of the universe continues to improve, we have little hope for the Voyager spacecraft to discover alien civilization. According to scientists’ new understanding of the solar system, it is believed that the range of the solar system is much larger than that observed in the past. Flying out of the top of the heliosphere into interstellar space does not mean leaving the solar system.
Beyond the top layer of the heliosphere, there is a broader Oort Nebula surrounding the solar system. Only when we walk out of the Oort Nebula can we really walk out of the solar system. And this Oort star is very thick. At the speed of Voyager, it may take tens of thousands of years to cross it. In other words, even if Voyager’s luck is good enough, it may be 10000 years from now.
Ten thousand years is enough time for human beings to become a primary interstellar civilization. At that time, we can easily get out of the solar system and no longer need Voyager to explore alien civilization. At that time, maybe we will recycle them and put them on display in the museum, which records the course of human exploration of the starry sky.
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