Simulations of a dynamic solar cycle and its effects on the interstellar boundary explorer ribbon and globally distributed energetic neutral atom flux

E. J. Zirnstein, J. Heerikhuisen, N. V. Pogorelov, D. J. McComas, M. A. Dayeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since 2009, observations by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) have vastly improved our understanding of the interaction between the solar wind (SW) and local interstellar medium through direct measurements of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs), which inform us about the heliospheric conditions that produced them. An enhanced feature of flux in the sky, the so-called IBEX ribbon, was not predicted by any global models before the first IBEX observations. A dominating theory of the origin of the ribbon, although still under debate, is a secondary charge-exchange process involving secondary ENAs originating from outside the heliopause. According to this mechanism, the evolution of the solar cycle should be visible in the ribbon flux. Therefore, in this paper we simulate a fully time-dependent ribbon flux, as well as globally distributed flux from the inner heliosheath (IHS), using time-dependent SW parameters from Sokoł et al. as boundary conditions for our time-dependent heliosphere simulation. After post-processing the results to compute H ENA fluxes, our results show that the secondary ENA ribbon indeed should be time dependent, evolving with a period of approximately 11 yr, with differences depending on the energy and direction. Our results for the IHS flux show little periodic change with the 11 yr solar cycle, but rather with short-term fluctuations in the background plasma. While the secondary ENA mechanism appears to emulate several key characteristics of the observed IBEX ribbon, it appears that our simulation does not yet include all of the relevant physics that produces the observed ribbon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume804
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

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

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