Imaging the Interaction of the Heliosphere with the Interstellar Medium from Saturn with Cassini

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Science  13 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5955, pp. 971-973
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181079

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We report an all-sky image of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) >6 kilo–electron volts produced by energetic protons occupying the region (heliosheath) between the boundary of the extended solar atmosphere and the local interstellar medium (LISM). The map obtained by the Ion and Neutral Camera (INCA) onboard Cassini reveals a broad belt of energetic protons whose nonthermal pressure is comparable to that of the local interstellar magnetic field. The belt, centered at ~260° ecliptic longitude extending from north to south and looping back through ~80°, appears to be ordered by the local interstellar magnetic field. The shape revealed by the ENA image does not conform to current models, wherein the heliosphere resembles a cometlike figure aligned in the direction of Sun’s travel through the LISM.

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