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Volume 5 Issue 8, August 2021

Voyager 1 in the interstellar medium

Voyager 1’s Plasma Wave System previously relied on coronal mass ejection-driven shock excitation of plasma to measure the density of the medium through which it was passing. However, as reported here, a very weak, narrowband, plasma oscillation has now been identified that enables the continuous measurement of the density of the interstellar medium beyond the heliosphere.

See Ocker et al.

Image: Jack Madden, Rhode Island School of Design. Cover Design:Allen Beattie.

Editorial

  • Many people have been unable to travel due to the pandemic, or even take a ‘staycation’. This August, we encourage you to slow down, look after your mental health, and let these stunning photographs transport you to a different place.

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Correspondence

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Comment & Opinion

  • Identifying the sources of high-energy cosmic neutrinos has been a challenge. Considering frequentist and Bayesian arguments, as well as the special conditions found in neutrino astronomy, we discuss whether to believe current 3σ observations.

    • Marek Kowalski
    Comment
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Books & Arts

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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Cassini measurements suggest hydrothermal activity on Enceladus that could support methanogenesis. Bayesian analysis of models simulating an abiotic or biotic ocean indicates the latter is more probable so long as abiogenesis is sufficiently likely to occur.

    • Laura M. Barge
    • Laura E. Rodriguez

    Collection:

    News & Views
  • The measured blue and redshifts of galaxies within filaments in the local Universe are consistent with the large-scale flow of matter within walls, but they may also point to evidence for their rotation.

    • Katarina Kraljic
    News & Views
  • The behaviour of minerals under high pressure affects the bulk properties of exoplanets and planets with rocky components, possibly influencing their observable radii. Obtaining a wide range of experimental data is key to understanding observations and informing planetary interior models.

    • Nadine Nettelmann
    News & Views
  • Observations from the brand-new CHEOPS mission reveal a third long-period transiting planet around the naked-eye star ν2 Lupi. Precise measurements of the masses and radii of planets around this star show a diversity of planetary compositions possibly ranging from bare rock to a significant volatile atmosphere.

    • Chelsea X. Huang
    News & Views
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Reviews

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Research

  • The Voyager 1 spacecraft is now probing interstellar space beyond the heliopause. Here, measurements from the Plasma Wave System reveal au-scale density fluctuations that trace interstellar turbulence without the need for solar shock-generated plasma oscillation events.

    • Stella Koch Ocker
    • James M. Cordes
    • Steven R. Spangler
    Letter
  • Three planets orbit the Sun-like star ν2 Lupi. CHEOPS data show that all of them are transiting and show remarkable diversity. In particular, dry and gas-poor inner planet b has experienced extensive atmospheric loss, while planets c and d are water rich and have a small gaseous envelope of primordial origin.

    • Laetitia Delrez
    • David Ehrenreich
    • Nicholas A. Walton
    Letter
  • Fast-moving pulsars and neutron stars in general may have received a kinetic ‘kick’ from an asymmetric element in the supernova explosion that formed them. Here, the spin axis of a pulsar is determined to lie along the three-dimensional direction of the pulsar’s motion, providing a challenging constraint on supernova explosion modelling.

    • Jumei Yao
    • Weiwei Zhu
    • Jiguang Lu
    Letter
  • What is the origin of the methane detected in Enceladus’s plumes? A Bayesian approach to the problem shows that abiotic serpentinization of rocks cannot explain the methane abundance by itself, and biotic methane production gets the highest likelihood—provided the probability of life emerging at Enceladus is high.

    • Antonin Affholder
    • François Guyot
    • Stéphane Mazevet

    Collection:

    Article
  • Under the pressure of a watery ocean, rock-forming minerals might dissolve at a planet’s rock–water interface, generating a denser-than-water layer that should be incorporated into models. The experimental data for MgO presented here are relevant to water-rich Earth-sized planets such as TRAPPIST-1 c and f, and to Uranus.

    • Taehyun Kim
    • Stella Chariton
    • Yongjae Lee
    Article
  • Photochemical hazes in exoplanet atmospheres work as opacity barriers, hindering characterization of the atmospheres themselves. Here laboratory experiments quantify the haze surface energies that factor into the removal of hazes from atmospheres, which, when added to existing data on haze production, give a greater understanding of haze properties.

    • Xinting Yu
    • Chao He
    • Véronique Vuitton
    Article
  • By stacking thousands of cosmic filaments and examining the velocity of galaxies perpendicular to the filament’s axis, it is shown that they display vortical motion consistent with rotation, signifying that angular momentum can be generated on unexpectedly large scales.

    • Peng Wang
    • Noam I. Libeskind
    • Quan Guo
    Article
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Amendments & Corrections

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Mission Control

  • After five years of construction, the Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory is nearing completion, but already returning exciting results on the origin of cosmic rays, explains Principal Investigator Zhen Cao.

    • Zhen Cao
    Mission Control
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