Heliospheric ENA Fluxes: How Sensitive are they to the Ionization State of LIC?
We explore the sensitivity of the fluxes of heliospheric energetic neutral atoms (ENA) at 1 AU to the ionization state of the local interstellar cloud (LIC). The solar wind plasma is compressed and heated in the termination shock transition. The shocked solar plasma is convected toward the heliospheric tail in the heliosheath, the region between the termination shock and the heliopause. The ENAs are produced in charge exchange of the plasma protons and background neutral gas and can be readily detected at 1 AU. The expected ENA fluxes depend on the shocked plasma density, temperature, and velocity in the heliosheath. The size and structure of the heliospheric interface region depend on the parameters of the interstellar medium. ENA fluxes would thus reveal the LIC parameters. We demonstrate the sensitivity of the heliospheric ENA fluxes to the ionization state of the LIC. The axi-symmetric model of the solar wind/LIC interaction includes the self-consistent treatment of the plasma-gas coupling and Monte Carlo simulations of the neutral gas distribution.
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