Fine Structure ENA Sources Beyond the Termination Shock: Observational Constraints and Detection Limits
Abstract:High spatial resolution maps from the IBEX mission (McComas et al, Science, 2009) suggest the presence of “fine structure” in the signal from beyond the termination shock. That is, areas of enhanced ENA emission that span less than a degree in the IBEX sky map. If confirmed, this would suggest very concentrated areas of emission from sources with scales of a few AU embedded in the outer heliosphere (or proportionally larger if they are located beyond the heliopause). This, in turn, would require the presence of unanticipated structures (plasma or neutral) beyond the termination shock for which the physics is poorly defined. It is therefore crucial to confirm the presence of these structures through careful analysis, or to establish the detection limits if the data taken to date is not sufficient for such a confirmation.
In this work, we use 5 years worth of IBEX data to examine the statistical significance of these enhancements. We examine correlations in time, ENA energy and coincidence type for evidence of these small-scale spatial structures. Then, using the known spatial response of the IBEX instrument, establish the conditions under which such structure, if present, would be detectable. This detection threshold analysis is fully applicable future measurements, such as those planned for IMAP.