11
$\begingroup$

I remember seeing that Voyager 1 is currently in interstellar space and will continue to move indefinitely. I however could not find the reference of where (in the vicinity) Voyager 1 is now. Is it close to some star or is it just traversing empty space and not close to anything?

$\endgroup$
4
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You may also like eyes.nasa.gov/apps/orrery for this kind of information. $\endgroup$ – coblr Feb 22 at 19:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the "accept", I've added some more details based on comments below the answer. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 23 at 2:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh it was indeed elaborate and well written answer! $\endgroup$ – GENIVI-LEARNER Feb 23 at 18:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @coblr +1 that was really helpful! $\endgroup$ – GENIVI-LEARNER Feb 23 at 18:32
18
$\begingroup$

Voyager 1 and 2 are still in the "neighborhood" of our solar system and very close to our Sun compared to any other star. They are roughly three times farther from the Sun than Neptune and Pluto and so already past the Kuiper belt where New Horizons is currently traveling.

As the diagram below shows, the Voyagers have passed the boundary where the Sun's pushes back on the interstellar plasma, but still much closer than the proposed Oort cloud of objects that are thought to orbit the Sun as left-overs from the solar system formation.

The difference is velocity; slow objects can still orbit the Sun at 100 or 1000 or 10,000 or 100,000 AU as long as they are slow enough to be trapped by its gravity. The Voyagers have more than escape velocity and so will continue to move away indefinitely. See this answer for more about that.

From How well can Voyager 1 separate Earth signals from Solar noise these days?:

Voyagers from 1969 until 2018

above: data for the Sun, planets, Pluto, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, from January 1, 1969 (a good year to start things) until now (2018). Dots are now. Data is from NASA JPL Horizons.

Voyager 1: Departed the ecliptic plane right after Saturn going "north", and is shown in magenta going "up, above" the ecliptic.

Voyager 2 After Saturn remained within the ecliptic plane in order to pass by Uranus and Neptune, at which point it "went south1", and is shown in mustard yellow going "down, below" the ecliptic.

For more about why they are going out of the ecliptic after their last swing-by of a planet see answers to

Since this is 2021 now you can add a few more millimeters to the ends of the trajectories.

Where to next?


Caution: This is a log scale so each number is a ten times bigger than the last one.

Voyager 1 at 100 AU is in "interstellar space" as far as the Sun's effect, but there are still believed to be primordial stuff orbiting the Sun as far as 10,000 AU and the next stars aren't until about 300,000 AU.


1"went south"

PIA17046_-_Voyager 1 Goes Interstellar Source

$\endgroup$
11
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @GENIVI-LEARNER And if my use of NASA's HORIZONS web interface and Stellarium is correct, Voyager 1 as seen from Earth is currently in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus, if you want to wave farewell to it. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Morton Feb 22 at 11:32
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Sooner or later, Voyager 1 will break out of the right margin of the post, enter the stack exchange super collider, pass the Andromeda galaxy, and exit your screen. i.stack.imgur.com/tzjOM.png $\endgroup$ – SE - stop firing the good guys Feb 22 at 12:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Since they asked if it's "close to some star", it might be helpful to add how long it will be before it's closer to another star than the Sun. $\endgroup$ – Barmar Feb 22 at 15:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm assuming the yellow and magenta lines in your first image are the two Voyager spacecraft, but which line corresponds to each Voyager? $\endgroup$ – TylerH Feb 22 at 17:26
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @TylerH From the planetary flybys, the yellow is Voyager 2 and magenta is Voyager 1 $\endgroup$ – SE - stop firing the good guys Feb 22 at 18:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.