Energetic neutral atoms measured by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX): Evidence for multiple heliosheath populations

M. I. Desai, F. A. Allegrini, M. Bzowski, M. A. Dayeh, H. Funsten, S. A. Fuselier, J. Heerikhuisen, M. A. Kubiak, D. J. McComas, N. V. Pogorelov, N. A. Schwadron, J. M. Sokół, G. P. Zank, E. J. Zirnstein

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Energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) observed by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) provide powerful diagnostics about the origin of the progenitor ion populations and the physical mechanisms responsible for their production. In this paper, we extend the work of Desai et al. and Fuselier et al. and combine and compare ENA spectra from the first 3 yr of observations by the IBEX-Hi and -Lo ENA imagers along the lines-of-sight (LOSs) from the inner heliosphere through to the locations of Voyager 1 and 2 with results from an updated physics-based model of the three-dimensional heliosphere and its constituent ion populations. Our results show that (1) IBEX ENA fluxes and spectra above ∼0.7 keV measured along the LOSs of the Voyagers are consistent with several models in which the parent pickup ion (PUI) populations originate in the inner heliosheath, and (2) a significant fraction of lower energy ENAs between ∼0.1-0.5 keV may originate from interstellar neutral gas charge-exchanging with a non-thermalized (hot) population of PUIs in the outer heliosheath beyond the heliopause. We discuss the implications of ENAs observed by IBEX originating from distinct parent populations as well as from two distinct locations in the heliospheric interface. These results indicate that ENA spectral measurements at various energies can be used to remotely probe distinct physical processes operating in vastly different regions of the distant heliosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number98
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: atoms
  • Sun: heliosphere
  • shock waves
  • solar wind


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