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NASA's Voyager 1 hits a 'magnetic highway' out of the solar system

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"It's like a highway, letting particles in and out," lead Voyager scientist Ed Stone told reporters at an American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.

Scientists don't know how long it will take for the probe to cross the so-called "magnetic highway," but they believe it is the last layer of a complex boundary between the region of space under the sun's influence and interstellar space.

"Our best guess is it's likely just a few months to a couple years away," Stone said.

Voyager 1 hit the outer sphere of the solar system, a region called the heliosphere, in 2004 and passed into the heliosheath, where the supersonic stream of particles from the sun - the so-called "solar wind" - slowed down and became turbulent.

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