Structures and Spectral Variations of the Outer Heliosphere in IBEX Energetic Neutral Atom Maps

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Science  13 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5955, pp. 964-966
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180927

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The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has obtained all-sky images of energetic neutral atoms emitted from the heliosheath, located between the solar wind termination shock and the local interstellar medium (LISM). These flux maps reveal distinct nonthermal (0.2 to 6 kilo–electron volts) heliosheath proton populations with spectral signatures ordered predominantly by ecliptic latitude. The maps show a globally distributed population of termination-shock–heated protons and a superimposed ribbonlike feature that forms a circular arc in the sky centered on ecliptic coordinate (longitude λ, latitude β) = (221°, 39°), probably near the direction of the LISM magnetic field. Over the IBEX energy range, the ribbon’s nonthermal ion pressure multiplied by its radial thickness is in the range of 70 to 100 picodynes per square centimeter AU (AU, astronomical unit), which is significantly larger than the 30 to 60 picodynes per square centimeter AU of the globally distributed population.

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