Measurements of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) have been extremely successful in providing very important information on the physical processes inside and outside of our heliosphere. For instance, recent Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) observations have provided new insights into the local interstellar environment and improved measurements of the interstellar He temperature, velocity, and direction of the interstellar flow vector. Since particle collisions are rare, and radiation pressure is negligible for these neutrals, gravitational forces mainly determine the trajectories of neutral He atoms. Depending on the distance of an ENA to the source of a gravitational field and its relative speed and direction, this can result in significant deflection and acceleration. In this paper, we investigate the impact of the gravitational effects of Earth, the Moon, and Jupiter on ENA measurements performed in Earth's orbit. The results show that current analysis of the interstellar neutral parameters by IBEX is not significantly affected by planetary gravitational effects. We further studied the possibility of whether or not the Helium focusing cone of the Sun and Jupiter could be measured by IBEX and whether or not these cones could be used as an independent measure of the temperature of interstellar Helium.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- ISM: atoms