As the Sun moves through the local interstellar medium (LISM), neutral atoms travel through the heliosphere and can be detected by IBEX. We consider interstellar neutral (ISN) hydrogen atoms with a drifting Maxwellian distribution function in the LISM that travel on almost hyperbolic trajectories to the inner heliosphere. They are subject to solar gravity and radiation pressure, as well as ionization processes. For ISN H, the radiation pressure, which exerts an effective force comparable to gravitation, decelerates individual atoms and shifts the longitude of their observed peak relative to that of ISN He. We used the peak longitude of the observed flux in the lowest energy channel of IBEX-Lo to investigate how radiation pressure shifts the ISN H signal over almost an entire solar cycle (2009-2018). Thus, we have created a new methodology to determine the Lyα effective radiation pressure from IBEX ISN H data. The resulting effective ratio of the solar radiation pressure and gravitation (μ eff = 1.074 ± 0.038), averaged over cycle 24, appears to agree within the uncertainties with simulations based on total irradiance observations7 while being higher by ∼21%. Our analysis indicates an increase of μ eff with solar activity, albeit with substantial uncertainties. Further study of IBEX H response functions and future Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe data should provide significant reduction of the uncertainties and improvements in our understanding of the effects of radiation pressure on ISN atoms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science