Energetic neutral atom and interstellar flow observations with IBEX: Implications for the global heliosphere

N. A. Schwadron, D. J. McComas, E. R. Christian, M. I. Desai, H. O. Funsten, S. A. Fuselier, E. Moebius, M. Reno, J. Scherrer, E. Zirnstein

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

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Abstract

Since launch in Oct. 2008, IBEX, with its two energetic neutral atom (ENA) cameras, has provided humankind with the first-ever global images of the complex boundary separating the heliosphere from the local interstellar medium (LISM). IBEX's energy-resolved all-sky maps, collected every six months, are yielding remarkable new insights into the heliospheres structure as it is shaped by the combined forces of the local interstellar flow, the local interstellar magnetic field (LISMF), and the evolving solar wind. IBEX has also acquired the first images of ENAs backscattered from the surface of the moon as well as global images of the magnetospheric response to solar wind disturbances. IBEX thus addresses all three Heliophysics science objectives set forth in the 2014 Science Plan for NASAs Science Mission Directorate (SMD) as well as the goals in the recent Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey (NRC 2012). In addition, with the information it provides on the properties of the LISM and the LISMF, IBEX represents a unique bridge between heliophysics and astrophysics, and fills in critical knowledge for understanding the habitability of exoplanetary systems and the future habitability of Earth and the solar system. Because of the few-year time lag due to solar wind and ENA transport, IBEX observed the solar wind/ LISM interaction characteristic of declining phase/solar minimum conditions. In the continuing mission, IBEX captures the response of the interstellar boundaries to the changing structure of the solar wind in its transition toward the "mini" solar maximum and possibly the decline into the next solar minimum. The continuing IBEX mission affords never-To-be-repeated opportunities to coordinate global imaging of the heliospheric boundary with in-situ measurements by the Voyagers as they pass beyond the heliopause and start to directly sample the LISM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4943851
JournalAIP Conference Proceedings
Volume1720
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 22 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event14th International Solar Wind Conference, Solar Wind 2015 - Weihai, China
Duration: Jun 22 2015Jun 26 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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    Schwadron, N. A., McComas, D. J., Christian, E. R., Desai, M. I., Funsten, H. O., Fuselier, S. A., Moebius, E., Reno, M., Scherrer, J., & Zirnstein, E. (2016). Energetic neutral atom and interstellar flow observations with IBEX: Implications for the global heliosphere. AIP Conference Proceedings, 1720, [4943851]. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4943851