Width and Variation of the ENA Flux Ribbon Observed by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer

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Science  13 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5955, pp. 962-964
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180981

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The dominant feature in Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) sky maps of heliospheric energetic neutral atom (ENA) flux is a ribbon of enhanced flux that extends over a broad range of ecliptic latitudes and longitudes. It is narrow (~20° average width) but long (extending over 300° in the sky) and is observed at energies from 0.2 to 6 kilo–electron volts. We demonstrate that the flux in the ribbon is a factor of 2 to 3 times higher than that of the more diffuse, globally distributed heliospheric ENA flux. The ribbon is most pronounced at ~1 kilo–electron volt. The average width of the ribbon is nearly constant, independent of energy. The ribbon is likely the result of an enhancement in the combined solar wind and pickup ion populations in the heliosheath.

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