Image of IMAGE in space

Expected and Unexpected Found in Annual Variation of Neutral Solar Wind Flux


The IMAGE satellite has detected signs of a neutral-particle solar wind that accompanies the more familiar charged plasma detected by satellites such as ACE. Because interstellar neutral hydrogen flows into the heliosphere from a direction that places the Earth upstream in the interstellar neutral flow in early June of every year, it was expected that the neutral solar wind flow discovered by IMAGE would exhibit and annual variation, peaking in the upstream direction. Although this prediction was confirmed by IMAGE observations, the location of the peak is shifted from its expected location and the neutral solar wind flux is significantly higher than expected."

(2001: M.R. Collier, T.E. Moore, K.W. Ogilvie, D. Chornay, J. Keller, S.A. Fuselier, J.M. Quinn, P. Wurz, M. Wuest, K.C. Hsieh)

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Additional Information

Solar Wind -The flow of charged particles from the Sun. The outer layers of the Sun including its corona, expand out into space at speeds of nearly 500,000 miles per hour. The density of this gas is about 10 atoms per cubic inch.

Interstellar Wind - As the sun and solar system move through interstellar space at a speed of 17 km/sec, atoms of interstellar gas and dust appear to enter and leave our solar system as a constant 'wind' of particles.

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Rev. 1.0.0, 24 April 2003, EVB II