Simulating the compton-getting effect for hydrogen flux measurements: Implications for IBEX-Hi and -Lo observations

E. J. Zirnstein, J. Heerikhuisen, D. J. McComas, N. A. Schwadron

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24 Scopus citations


The Interstellar Boundary EXplorer (IBEX), launched in 2008 October, has improved our understanding of the solar wind-local interstellar medium interaction through its detection of neutral atoms, particularly that of hydrogen (H). IBEX is able to create full maps of the sky in six-month intervals as the Earth orbits the Sun, detecting H with energies between ∼0.01 and 6 keV. Due to the relative motion of IBEX to the solar inertial frame, measurements made in the spacecraft frame introduce a Compton-Getting (CG) effect, complicating measurements at the lowest energies. In this paper we provide results from a numerical simulation that calculates fluxes of H atoms at 1 AU in the inertial and spacecraft frames (both ram and anti-ram), at energies relevant to IBEX-Hi and -Lo. We show theory behind the numerical simulations, applying a simple frame transformation to derived flux equations that provides a straightforward way to simulate fluxes in the spacecraft frame. We then show results of H energetic neutral atom fluxes simulated at IBEX-Hi energy passbands 2-6 in all frames, comparing with IBEX-Hi data along selected directions, and also show results simulated at energies relevant to IBEX-Lo. Although simulations at IBEX-Hi energies agree reasonably well with the CG correction method used for IBEX-Hi data, we demonstrate the importance of properly modeling low energy H fluxes due to inherent complexities involved with measurements made in moving frames, as well as dynamic radiation pressure effects close to the Sun.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: atoms
  • Sun: heliosphere
  • methods: numerical
  • solar wind


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