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Title: Helium Energetic Neutral Atoms from the Heliosphere: Perspectives for Future Observations

Abstract

Observations of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) allow for remote sensing of plasma properties in distant regions of the heliosphere. So far, most of the observations have concerned only hydrogen atoms. In this paper, we present perspectives for observations of helium energetic neutral atoms (He ENAs). We calculated the expected intensities of He ENAs created by the neutralization of helium ions in the inner heliosheath and through the secondary ENA mechanism in the outer heliosheath. We found that the dominant source region for He ENAs is the inner heliosheath. The obtained magnitudes of intensity spectra suggest that He ENAs can be observed with future ENA detectors, as those planned on Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe . Observing He ENAs is most likely for energies from a few to a few tens of keV/nuc. Estimates of the expected count rates show that the ratio of helium to hydrogen atoms registered in the detectors can be as low as 1:10{sup 4}. Consequently, the detectors need to be equipped with an appropriate mass spectrometer capability, allowing for recognition of chemical elements. Due to the long mean free paths of helium ions in the inner heliosheath, He ENAs are produced also in the distant heliosphericmore » tail. This implies that observations of He ENAs can resolve its structure, which seems challenging from observations of hydrogen ENAs since energetic protons are neutralized before they progress deeper in the heliospheric tail.« less

Authors:
; ;  [1]
  1. Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences (CBK PAN), Bartycka 18A, 00-716 Warsaw (Poland)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22663623
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 840; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ATOMS; CONCENTRATION RATIO; HELIOSPHERE; HELIUM; HELIUM IONS; HYDROGEN; KEV RANGE; MASS; MASS SPECTROMETERS; MEAN FREE PATH; PLASMA; PROTONS; SOLAR WIND; SPACE; SPACE VEHICLES; SPECTRA; SUN

Citation Formats

Swaczyna, Paweł, Grzedzielski, Stan, and Bzowski, Maciej, E-mail: pswaczyna@cbk.waw.pl. Helium Energetic Neutral Atoms from the Heliosphere: Perspectives for Future Observations. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA6D5B.
Swaczyna, Paweł, Grzedzielski, Stan, & Bzowski, Maciej, E-mail: pswaczyna@cbk.waw.pl. Helium Energetic Neutral Atoms from the Heliosphere: Perspectives for Future Observations. United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA6D5B.
Swaczyna, Paweł, Grzedzielski, Stan, and Bzowski, Maciej, E-mail: pswaczyna@cbk.waw.pl. Wed . "Helium Energetic Neutral Atoms from the Heliosphere: Perspectives for Future Observations". United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA6D5B.
@article{osti_22663623,
title = {Helium Energetic Neutral Atoms from the Heliosphere: Perspectives for Future Observations},
author = {Swaczyna, Paweł and Grzedzielski, Stan and Bzowski, Maciej, E-mail: pswaczyna@cbk.waw.pl},
abstractNote = {Observations of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) allow for remote sensing of plasma properties in distant regions of the heliosphere. So far, most of the observations have concerned only hydrogen atoms. In this paper, we present perspectives for observations of helium energetic neutral atoms (He ENAs). We calculated the expected intensities of He ENAs created by the neutralization of helium ions in the inner heliosheath and through the secondary ENA mechanism in the outer heliosheath. We found that the dominant source region for He ENAs is the inner heliosheath. The obtained magnitudes of intensity spectra suggest that He ENAs can be observed with future ENA detectors, as those planned on Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe . Observing He ENAs is most likely for energies from a few to a few tens of keV/nuc. Estimates of the expected count rates show that the ratio of helium to hydrogen atoms registered in the detectors can be as low as 1:10{sup 4}. Consequently, the detectors need to be equipped with an appropriate mass spectrometer capability, allowing for recognition of chemical elements. Due to the long mean free paths of helium ions in the inner heliosheath, He ENAs are produced also in the distant heliospheric tail. This implies that observations of He ENAs can resolve its structure, which seems challenging from observations of hydrogen ENAs since energetic protons are neutralized before they progress deeper in the heliospheric tail.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-4357/AA6D5B},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 2,
volume = 840,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed May 10 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Wed May 10 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}
  • We present new results from three-dimensional simulations of the solar wind interaction with the local interstellar medium (LISM) using recent observations by NASA's Interstellar Boundary EXplorer (IBEX) mission estimates of the velocity and temperature of the LISM. We investigate four strengths of the LISM magnetic field, from 1 to 4 μG, and adjust the LISM proton and hydrogen densities so that the distance to the termination shock (TS) in the directions of the Voyager spacecraft is just below 90 AU, and the density of hydrogen at the TS is close to 0.09 cm{sup –3} in the nose direction. The orientationmore » of the magnetic field is chosen to point toward the center of the ribbon of enhanced energetic neutral atom (ENA) flux seen in the IBEX data. Our simulations show that the plasma and neutral properties in the outer heliosheath vary considerably as a function of the LISM magnetic field strength. We also show that the heliotail points downwind in all cases, though its structure is strongly affected by the external magnetic field. Comparison and consistency between the simulated ENA flux and the circularity of the ribbon as measured by IBEX are most consistent with a LISM magnetic field strength aligned with the center of the ribbon and a magnitude in the range 2.5-3 μG.« less
  • Here we present new results from three-dimensional simulations of the solar wind interaction with the local interstellar medium (LISM) using recent observations by NASA's Interstellar Boundary EXplorer (IBEX) mission estimates of the velocity and temperature of the LISM. We investigate four strengths of the LISM magnetic field, from 1 to 4 μG, and adjust the LISM proton and hydrogen densities so that the distance to the termination shock (TS) in the directions of the Voyager spacecraft is just below 90 AU, and the density of hydrogen at the TS is close to 0.09 cm-3 in the nose direction. The orientationmore » of the magnetic field is chosen to point toward the center of the ribbon of enhanced energetic neutral atom (ENA) flux seen in the IBEX data. Our simulations show that the plasma and neutral properties in the outer heliosheath vary considerably as a function of the LISM magnetic field strength. We also show that the heliotail points downwind in all cases, though its structure is strongly affected by the external magnetic field. Lastly, comparison and consistency between the simulated ENA flux and the circularity of the ribbon as measured by IBEX are most consistent with a LISM magnetic field strength aligned with the center of the ribbon and a magnitude in the range 2.5-3 μG.« less
  • Observations of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) are a fruitful tool for remote diagnosis of the plasma in the heliosphere and its vicinity. So far, instruments detecting ENAs from the heliosphere were configured for observations of hydrogen atoms. Here, we estimate emissions of ENAs of the heavy chemical elements helium, oxygen, nitrogen, and neon. A large portion of the heliospheric ENAs is created in the inner heliosheath from neutralized interstellar pick-up ions (PUIs). We modeled this process and calculated full-sky intensities of ENAs for energies 0.2–130 keV/nuc. We found that the largest fluxes among considered species are expected for helium, smallermore » for oxygen and nitrogen, and smallest for neon. The obtained intensities are 50–10{sup 6} times smaller than the hydrogen ENA intensities observed by IBEX . The detection of heavy ENAs will be possible if a future ENA detector is equipped with the capability to measure the masses of observed atoms. Because of different reaction cross-sections among the different species, observations of heavy ENAs can allow for a better understanding of global structure of the heliosphere as well as the transport and energization of PUIs in the heliosphere.« less
  • Following the high-precision determination of the velocity vector and temperature of the pristine interstellar neutral (ISN) He via a coordinated analysis summarized by McComas et al., we analyzed the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) observations of neutral He left out from this analysis. These observations were collected during the ISN observation seasons 2010–2014 and cover the region in the Earth's orbit where the Warm Breeze (WB) persists. We used the same simulation model and a parameter fitting method very similar to that used for the analysis of ISN He. We approximated the parent population of the WB in front of themore » heliosphere with a homogeneous Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution function and found a temperature of ∼9500 K, an inflow speed of 11.3 km s{sup −1}, and an inflow longitude and latitude in the J2000 ecliptic coordinates 251.°6, 12.°0. The abundance of the WB relative to ISN He is 5.7% and the Mach number is 1.97. The newly determined inflow direction of the WB, the inflow directions of ISN H and ISN He, and the direction to the center of the IBEX Ribbon are almost perfectly co-planar, and this plane coincides within relatively narrow statistical uncertainties with the plane fitted only to the inflow directions of ISN He, ISN H, and the WB. This co-planarity lends support to the hypothesis that the WB is the secondary population of ISN He and that the center of the Ribbon coincides with the direction of the local interstellar magnetic field (ISMF). The common plane for the direction of the inflow of ISN gas, ISN H, the WB, and the local ISMF is given by the normal direction: ecliptic longitude 349.°7 ± 0.°6 and latitude 35.°7 ± 0.6 in the J2000 coordinates, with a correlation coefficient of 0.85.« less
  • We have developed a refined and optimized version of the Warsaw Test Particle Model of interstellar neutral gas in the heliosphere, specially tailored for analysis of IBEX-Lo observations. The former version of the model was used in the analysis of neutral He observed by IBEX that resulted in an unexpected conclusion that the interstellar neutral He flow vector was different than previously thought and that a new population of neutral He, dubbed the Warm Breeze, exists in the heliosphere. It was also used in the reanalysis of Ulysses observations that confirmed the original findings on the flow vector, but suggestedmore » a significantly higher temperature. The present version of the model has two strains targeted for different applications, based on an identical paradigm, but differing in the implementation and in the treatment of ionization losses. We present the model in detail and discuss numerous effects related to the measurement process that potentially modify the resulting flux of ISN He observed by IBEX, and identify those of them that should not be omitted in the simulations to avoid biasing the results. This paper is part of a coordinated series of papers presenting the current state of analysis of IBEX-Lo observations of ISN He. Details of the analysis method are presented by Swaczyna et al. and results of the analysis are presented by Bzowski et al.« less