Symmetry of the IBEX ribbon of enhanced energetic neutral atom (ENA) flux

H. O. Funsten, M. Bzowski, D. M. Cai, M. Dayeh, R. Demajistre, P. C. Frisch, J. Heerikhuisen, D. M. Higdon, P. Janzen, B. A. Larsen, G. Livadiotis, D. J. McComas, E. Möbius, C. S. Reese, E. C. Roelof, D. B. Reisenfeld, N. A. Schwadron, E. J. Zirnstein

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19 Scopus citations


The circular ribbon of enhanced energetic neutral atom (ENA) emission observed by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission remains a critical signature for understanding the interaction between the heliosphere and the interstellar medium. We study the symmetry of the ribbon flux and find strong, spectrally dependent reflection symmetry throughout the energy range 0.7-4.3 keV. The distribution of ENA flux around the ribbon is predominantly unimodal at 0.7 and 1.1 keV, distinctly bimodal at 2.7 and 4.3 keV, and a mixture of both at 1.7 keV. The bimodal flux distribution consists of partially opposing bilateral flux lobes, located at highest and lowest heliographic latitude extents of the ribbon. The vector between the ribbon center and heliospheric nose (which defines the so-called BV plane) appears to play an organizing role in the spectral dependence of the symmetry axis locations as well as asymmetric contributions to the ribbon flux. The symmetry planes at 2.7 and 4.3 keV, derived by projecting the symmetry axes to a great circle in the sky, are equivalent to tilting the heliographic equatorial plane to the ribbon center, suggesting a global heliospheric ordering. The presence and energy dependence of symmetric unilateral and bilateral flux distributions suggest strong spectral filtration from processes encountered by an ion along its journey from the source plasma to its eventual detection at IBEX.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2015


FundersFunder number
National Aeronautics and Space Administration


    • ISM: atoms
    • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
    • ISM: magnetic fields
    • ISM: structure
    • Sun: heliosphere


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