Science Questions

What questions will IBEX answer?

Heliosphere Components
Image Credit: SwRI/IBEX Team
The single, focused objective of IBEX is to discover the global interaction between the solar wind and the interstellar medium.

The interstellar interaction encompasses the structures, dynamics, energetic particle acceleration, and charged particle propagation in the complex region where the solar wind meets the interstellar medium — the region that separates our solar system from the galactic environment. IBEX explores this region by providing the first global observations of the interstellar interaction - disclosing its fundamental nature and providing the observations needed for detailed modeling and in-depth understanding.

IBEX achieves its sole objective by answering four fundamental science questions:

  • Question I: What is the global strength and structure of the termination shock?
  • Question II: How are energetic protons accelerated at the termination shock?
  • Question III: What are the global properties of the solar wind flow beyond the termination shock and in the heliotail?
  • Question IV: How does the interstellar flow interact with the heliosphere beyond the heliopause?