Neutral Atom Imaging of the Solar Wind-Magnetosphere-Exosphere Interaction Near the Subsolar Magnetopause

S. A. Fuselier, M. A. Dayeh, A. Galli, H. O. Funsten, N. A. Schwadron, S. M. Petrinec, K. J. Trattner, D. J. McComas, J. L. Burch, S. Toledo-Redondo, J. R. Szalay, R. J. Strangeway

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Energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) created by charge-exchange of ions with the Earth's hydrogen exosphere near the subsolar magnetopause yield information on the distribution of plasma in the outer magnetosphere and magnetosheath. ENA observations from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) are used to image magnetosheath plasma and, for the first time, low-energy magnetospheric plasma near the magnetopause. These images show that magnetosheath plasma is distributed fairly evenly near the subsolar magnetopause; however, low-energy magnetospheric plasma is not distributed evenly in the outer magnetosphere. Simultaneous images and in situ observations from the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft from November 2015 (during the solar cycle declining phase) are used to derive the exospheric density. The ~11–17 cm−3 density at 10 RE is similar to that obtained previously for solar minimum. Thus, these combined results indicate that the exospheric density 10 RE from the Earth may have a weak dependence on solar cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL089362
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 16 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • charge-exchange
  • energetic neutral atoms
  • solar wind-magnetosphere-exosphere interaction


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