Interstellar gas flow parameters derived from interstellar boundary explorer-Lo observations in 2009 and 2010: Analytical analysis

E. Möbius, P. Bochsler, M. Bzowski, D. Heirtzler, M. A. Kubiak, H. Kucharek, M. A. Lee, T. Leonard, N. A. Schwadron, X. Wu, S. A. Fuselier, G. Crew, D. J. McComas, L. Petersen, L. Saul, D. Valovcin, R. Vanderspek, P. Wurz

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165 Scopus citations


Neutral atom imaging of the interstellar gas flow in the inner heliosphere provides the most detailed information on physical conditions of the surrounding interstellar medium (ISM) and its interaction with the heliosphere. The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) measured neutral H, He, O, and Ne for three years. We compare the He and combined O+Ne flow distributions for two interstellar flow passages in 2009 and 2010 with an analytical calculation, which is simplified because the IBEX orientation provides observations at almost exactly the perihelion of the gas trajectories. This method allows separate determination of the key ISM parameters: inflow speed, longitude, and latitude, as well as temperature. A combined optimization, as in complementary approaches, is thus not necessary. Based on the observed peak position and width in longitude and latitude, inflow speed, latitude, and temperature are found as a function of inflow longitude. The latter is then constrained by the variation of the observed flow latitude as a function of observer longitude and by the ratio of the widths of the distribution in longitude and latitude. Identical results are found for 2009 and 2010: an He flow vector somewhat outside previous determinations (λ ISM∞ = 790+30(-35), β ISM∞ = -49 02, V ISM∞ = 23.5 + 3.0(-2.0)kms -1, T He = 5000-8200K), suggesting a larger inflow longitude and lower speed. The O+Ne temperature range, T O+Ne = 5300-9000K, is found to be close to the upper range for He and consistent with an isothermal medium for all species within current uncertainties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: atoms
  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
  • Sun: heliosphere
  • methods: data analysis
  • solar neighborhood


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