Volume 565, May 2014
|Number of page(s)||9|
|Published online||16 May 2014|
Transit-time aspects of ENA production models for the inner heliosheath
1 Argelander Institut für Astronomie der Universität Bonn, Abteilung f. Astrophysik und Extraterrestrische Forschung, auf dem Hügel 71, 53121, Bonn, Germany
2 Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio TX, USA
3 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Texas, San Antonio TX, USA
Received: 29 October 2013
Accepted: 17 February 2014
It is still a major challenge to understand the data of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) that arrive from the outer heliosphere. These data are provided by the IBEX mission. With the most recent data covering three years of dynamical evolution, it is now possible to study temporal correlations with the solar cycle. We present in this paper for the first time an extended study dedicated to the transit-time delay between the plasma that is ejected from the Sun towards the outer heliosphere and the ENA fluxes that reach the detector after the solar wind protons undergo charge exchange processes in their distant production regions in the inner heliosheath. We derive transit-time delays caused by both general and non-trivial model-dependent contributions for arbitrary points in the inner heliosheath. In addition, we also calculate the average transit-time delay along the line-of-sight in selected directions, allowing to estimate how strongly an extended emission region can reduce the resolution that is possible with transit-time studies. We are able to demonstrate that ENAs generated beyond a certain characteristic streamline distance are mostly removed by charge exchange, and thus do not contribute significantly to the keV-ENA fluxes observed by IBEX. For this reason, transit-time delays do provide a viable tool for studying the impact of the solar cycle on ENA fluxes.
Key words: shock waves / plasmas / solar wind / Sun: heliosphere
© ESO, 2014
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