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Strong Bow Shock vs Weak Bow Shock
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Strong Bow Shock vs Weak Bow Shock

January 9, 2013
These images depict two models of the IBEX data. These maps show the number of Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENAs) for each small area of the sky. The direction that the Sun is traveling, the nose of the heliosphere, is shown towards the right center of each map. Regions in red indicate that high levels of ENA originated in the region, while blue regions indicate low levels of ENA originated in the region. The top map shows what the data would look like if there was a strong shock, which means that the solar wind carries most of the pressure. The other map shows what the data would look like if there was a weak shock. In the case of weak shock, the initial shock is weakened into a wave by pickup ions and energetic protons from the solar wind. The top ellipse shows that if the Termination Shock (TS) is strong, the nose of the heliosphere will have high ENA origination while the tail will have relatively little ENA origination. Conversely, weak TS will have low numbers of ENAs at the nose. However, as one approaches the tail of a weak TS, ENA counts soar to form a peak circling the tail, yet the numbers of ENA will drop off quickly so that the tail itself has low ENA origination. The actual TS is most likely a combination of both models. Credit: SWRI


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