Direct Observations of Interstellar H, He, and O by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer

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Science  13 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5955, pp. 969-971
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180971

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Neutral gas of the local interstellar medium flows through the inner solar system while being deflected by solar gravity and depleted by ionization. The dominating feature in the energetic neutral atom Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) all-sky maps at low energies is the hydrogen, helium, and oxygen interstellar gas flow. The He and O flow peaked around 8 February 2009 in accordance with gravitational deflection, whereas H dominated after 26 March 2009, consistent with approximate balance of gravitational attraction by solar radiation pressure. The flow distributions arrive from a few degrees above the ecliptic plane and show the same temperature for He and O. An asymmetric O distribution in ecliptic latitude points to a secondary component from the outer heliosheath.

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