Imaging the heliosphere using neutral atoms from solar wind energy down to 15 eV

A. Galli, P. Wurz, S. A. Fuselier, D. J. McComas, M. Bzowski, J. M. Sokół, M. A. Kubiak, E. Möbius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

We study the spatial and temporal distribution of hydrogen energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) from the heliosheath observed with the IBEX-Lo sensor of the Interstellar Boundary EXplorer (IBEX) from solar wind energies down to the lowest available energy (15 eV). All available IBEX-Lo data from 2009 January until 2013 June were included. The sky regions imaged when the spacecraft was outside of Earth's magnetosphere and when the Earth was moving toward the direction of observation offer a sufficient signal-to-noise ratio even at very low energies. We find that the ENA ribbon - a 20° wide region of high ENA intensities - is most prominent at solar wind energies whereas it fades at lower energies. The maximum emission in the ribbon is located near the poles for 2 keV and closer to the ecliptic plane for energies below 1 keV. This shift is an evidence that the ENA ribbon originates from the solar wind. Below 0.1 keV, the ribbon can no longer be identified against the globally distributed ENA signal. The ENA measurements in the downwind direction are affected by magnetospheric contamination below 0.5 keV, but a region of very low ENA intensities can be identified from 0.1 keV to 2 keV. The energy spectra of heliospheric ENAs follow a uniform power law down to 0.1 keV. Below this energy, they seem to become flatter, which is consistent with predictions. Due to the subtraction of local background, the ENA intensities measured with IBEX agree with the upper limit derived from Lyα observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume796
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 20 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • ISM: general
  • Sun: heliosphere
  • plasmas
  • solar wind

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    Galli, A., Wurz, P., Fuselier, S. A., McComas, D. J., Bzowski, M., Sokół, J. M., Kubiak, M. A., & Möbius, E. (2014). Imaging the heliosphere using neutral atoms from solar wind energy down to 15 eV. Astrophysical Journal, 796(1), [9]. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/796/1/9