Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science (KiNSIS)

Eberhard Möbius (New Hampshire): Astronomy with Neutral Atoms

04.07.2017 ab 16:15

Hans-Geiger-Hörsaal ( Leibnizstr. 13, Raum 52)


Eberhard Möbius (Space Science Center and Department of Physics, University of New Hampshire):
Astronomy with Neutral Atoms - Imaging the Heliospheric Boundary and Catching the Interstellar Wind with the Interstellar Boundary Explorer

400 years after Galileo pointed a telescope at celestial objects for the first time, neutral atoms were added to the astronomical toolbox with the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), launched October 19, 2008. Since early 2009, two energetic neutral atom (ENA) cameras take global images of the solar system’s interaction with its galactic neighborhood. They have returned stunning images of the heliospheric boundary region, where the solar wind slows down in response to the surrounding interstellar medium, including the front and tail region of the heliosphere. Most unexpectedly, the images show a bright and persistent “Ribbon” across the sky, which provides a marker for the direction of the local interstellar magnetic field, but the processes leading to the bright ENA emission are still being investigated. Time variations in the ENA fluxes that vary with energy provide additional constraints and point to the neutral solar wind that penetrates beyond the boundary of the heliosphere. The IBEX-Lo camera catches the interstellar wind of neutral H, He, O, and Ne atoms that blows through the solar system with a speed of ≈26 km/s and arises from the motion of the Sun relative to the surrounding local interstellar gas cloud (LIC). This observed gas flow distribution is an excellent probe of the state of the LIC and shows clear signatures of the deflection of the interstellar plasma at the heliospheric boundary.

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