Thermodynamics of the Inner Heliosheath

G. Livadiotis, D. J. McComas, H. O. Funsten, N. A. Schwadron, J. R. Szalay, E. Zirnstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We derive annual sky maps of the proton temperature in the inner heliosheath (IHS), and track their temporal evolution over the years 2009-2016 of Interstellar Boundary Explorer observations. Other associated thermodynamic parameters also determined are the density, kappa (the parameter that characterizes kappa distributions), temperature rate, polytropic index, and entropy. We exploit the theory of kappa distributions and their connection with polytropes, to (i) express a new polytropic quantity Π that remains invariant along streamlines where temperature and density may vary, (ii) parameterize the proton flux in terms of the Π invariant and kappa, and (iii) derive the temperature and density, respectively, from the slope and intercept of the linear relationship between kappa and logarithm of Π. We find the following thermodynamic characteristics: (1) temperature sky maps and histograms shifted to their lowest values in 2012 and their highest in 2015; (2) temperature negatively correlated with density, reflecting the subisothermal polytropic behavior; (3) temperature positively correlated with kappa, revealing characteristics of the mechanism responsible for generating kappa distributions; (4) processes in IHS are subisothermal tending toward isobaric, consistent with previously published results; (5) linear relationship between kappa and polytropic indices, revealing characteristics of the particle potential energy; and (6) entropy positively correlated with polytropic index, aligned with the underlying theory that entropy increases toward the isothermal state where the kappa distribution reduces to the Maxwell-Boltzmann description.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number53
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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