Image of IMAGE in space

IMAGE Detects Solar Wind Neutral Atoms with the Serendipitous Help of the XMM-Newton Satellite

solar wind neutral atoms

The X-ray imaging spacecraft XMM-Newton, while observing the Hubble Deep Field North, on June 1, 2001, detected an increased low energy X-ray emission which corresponded to solar wind ions. At the same time, LENA observed an enhancement in the neutral solar wind. This represents the first simultaneous observation of solar wind ions interacting with neutral atoms in a process called 'charge exchange'. The figure shows the data from LENA with a circle drawn to indicate the location of Earth.

(2003: Michael Collier)

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Additional Information

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.

Plasma -A complex mixture of atoms and electrically-charged particles. Typical space plasma contain uncharged atoms, electrons, protons and ions of various atoms.

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Dr. S. Odenwald,, +1-301-286-6953
NSSDC, Mail Code 630, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
NASA Approval: J. L. Green,
Rev. 1.0.0, 24 April 2003, EVB II