Seven Years of Imaging the Global Heliosphere with IBEX

Academic Article


  • The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has now operated in space for 7 years and returned nearly continuous observations that have led to scientific discoveries and reshaped our entire understanding of the outer heliosphere and its interaction with the local interstellar medium. Here we extend prior work, adding the 2014-2015 data for the first time, and examine, validate, initially analyze, and provide a complete 7-year set of Energetic Neutral Atom (ENA) observations from ~0.1 to 6 keV. The data, maps, and documentation provided here represent the 10th major release of IBEX data and include improvements to various prior corrections to provide the citable reference for the current version of IBEX data. We are now able to study time variations in the outer heliosphere and interstellar interaction over more than half a solar cycle. We find that the Ribbon has evolved differently than the globally distributed flux (GDF), with a leveling off and partial recovery of ENAs from the GDF, owing to solar wind output flattening and recovery. The Ribbon has now also lost its latitudinal ordering, which reflects the breakdown of solar minimum solar wind conditions and exhibits a greater time delay than for the surrounding GDF. Together, the IBEX observations strongly support a secondary ENA source for the Ribbon, and we suggest that this be adopted as the nominal explanation of the Ribbon going forward.
  • Authors

  • McComas, DJ
  • Zirnstein, EJ
  • Bzowski, M
  • Dayeh, MA
  • Funsten, HO
  • Fuselier, SA
  • Janzen, PH
  • Kubiak, MA
  • Kucharek, Harald
  • Mobius, E
  • Reisenfeld, DB
  • Schwadron, Nathan
  • Sokol, JM
  • Szalay, JR
  • Tokumaru, M
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • April 2017
  • Has Subject Area


  • Sun: activity
  • Sun: heliosphere
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • local interstellar matter
  • solar wind
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 41
  • End Page

  • 41
  • Volume

  • 229
  • Issue

  • 2