Fourteen Years of Energetic Neutral Atom Observations from IBEX

D. J. McComas, M. Alimaganbetov, L. J. Beesley, M. Bzowski, H. O. Funsten, P. H. Janzen, M. A. Kubiak, J. S. Rankin, D. B. Reisenfeld, N. A. Schwadron, J. R. Szalay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has been observing the outer heliosphere and its interactions with the very local interstellar medium (VLISM) via measurements of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) for over 14 yr. We discovered the IBEX Ribbon—a structure completely unanticipated by any prior theory or model—that almost certainly resides beyond the heliopause in the VLISM. We also characterized the other major source of heliospheric ENAs, the globally distributed flux (GDF), produced largely in the heliosheath between the termination shock and heliopause. In this study, we make three major new contributions. First, we validate, provide, and analyze the most recent 3 yr of IBEX-Hi (0.5-6 keV FWHM) data (2020-2022) for the first time. Second, we link these observations to the prior 11 yr of observations, exploring long-term variations. Finally, we provide the first IBEX team-validated Ribbon/GDF separation scheme and separated maps. Because of the uncertainty in separating different line-of-sight integrated sources, we provide not just best guess (median) maps, but also maps with upper and lower reasonable values of Ribbon and GDF fluxes, along with bounding fluxes that add the uncertainties to the upper and lower values. This allows theories and models to be compared with a range of possible values that the IBEX team believes are consistent with data. These observations, along with the reanalysis of the prior 11 yr of IBEX-Hi data, provide new insights and even further develop our detailed understanding of the heliosphere’s interaction with the local interstellar medium unlocked by IBEX.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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