Publication: Parallax of the IBEX Ribbon Indicates a Spatially Retained Source

Tuesday, Nov 5, 2019

In 2009, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) discovered the existence of a narrow “ribbon” of intense energetic neutral atom emission projecting approximately a circle in the sky. It is believed that the ribbon originates from outside of the heliopause in radial directions (r) perpendicular to the local interstellar magnetic field (ISMF), B, i.e., B · r = 0. Swaczyna et al. estimated the distance to the IBEX ribbon via the parallax method comparing the ribbon position observed from opposite sides of the Sun. They found a parallax angle of 0°.41±0°.15, yielding a distance of 140+84/-38 au to a portion of the ribbon at high ecliptic latitudes. In this study, we demonstrate how the apparent shift of the ribbon in the sky, and thus the apparent distance to the ribbonʼs source found via the parallax, depends on the transport effects of energetic ions outside the heliopause. We find that the apparent shift of the ribbon based on the “spatial retention” model with ion enhancement near B · r = 0, as proposed by Schwadron & McComas, agrees with the parallax of the source region. Parallax is also accurate for a homogeneously distributed emission source. However, if there is weak pitch-angle scattering and ions propagate freely along the ISMF, the apparent shift is significantly smaller than the expected parallax because of the highly anisotropic source. In light of the results from Swaczyna et al., our results indicate that the IBEX ribbon source is spatially confined.

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