Interstellar neutral helium in the heliosphere from ibex observations. I. Uncertainties and backgrounds in the data and parameter determination method

P. Swaczyna, M. Bzowski, M. A. Kubiak, J. M. Sokół, S. A. Fuselier, D. Heirtzler, H. Kucharek, T. W. Leonard, D. J. McComas, E. Möbius, N. A. Schwadron

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This paper is one of three companion papers presenting the results of our in-depth analysis of the interstellar neutral helium (ISN He) observations carried out using IBEX-Lo during the first six Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) observation seasons. We derive corrections for losses due to the limited throughput of the interface buffer and determine the IBEX spin-axis pointing. We develop an uncertainty system for the data, taking into account the resulting correlations between the data points. This system includes uncertainties due to Poisson statistics, background, spin-axis determination, systematic deviation of the boresight from the prescribed position, correction for the interface buffer losses, and the expected Warm Breeze (WB) signal. Subsequently, we analyze the data from 2009 to examine the role of various components of the uncertainty system. We show that the ISN He flow parameters are in good agreement with the values obtained by the original analysis. We identify the WB as the principal contributor to the global χ2 values in previous analyses. Other uncertainties have a much milder role and their contributions are comparable to each other. The application of this uncertainty system reduced the minimum χ2 value 4-fold. The obtained χ2 value, still exceeding the expected value, suggests that either the uncertainty system may still be incomplete or the adopted physical model lacks a potentially important element, likely an imperfect determination of the WB parameters. The derived corrections and uncertainty system are used in the accompanying paper by Bzowski et al. in an analysis of the data from six seasons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number26
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: atoms
  • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
  • Sun: heliosphere
  • instrumentation: detectors
  • methods: data analysis
  • methods: statistical


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