Energetic neutral atoms from the Earth's subsolar magnetopause

S. A. Fuselier, H. O. Funsten, D. Heirtzler, P. Janzen, H. Kucharek, D. J. McComas, E. M̈bius, T. E. Moore, S. M. Petrinec, D. B. Reisenfeld, N. A. Schwadron, K. J. Trattner, P. Wurz

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The shocked solar wind in the Earth's magnetosheath becomes nearly stationary at the subsolar magnetopause. At this location, solar wind protons are neutralized by charge exchange with neutral hydrogen atoms at the extreme limits of the Earth's tenuous exosphere. The resulting Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENAs) propagate away from the subsolar region in nearly all directions. Simultaneous observations of hydrogen ENAs from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) and proton distributions in the magnetosheath from the Cluster spacecraft are used to quantify this charge exchange process. By combining these observations with a relatively simple model, estimates are obtained for the ratio of ENA to shocked solar wind flux (about 10-4) and the exospheric density at distances greater than 10 Earth Radii (RE) upstream from the Earth (about 8 cm-3).

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL13101
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010


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