Magnetic Trapping of Galactic Cosmic Rays in the Outer Heliosheath and Their Preferential Entry into the Heliosphere

Vladimir Florinski, Juan Alonso Guzman, Jens Kleimann, Igor Baliukin, Keyvan Ghanbari, Drew Turner, Bertalan Zieger, Jozsef Kóta, Merav Opher, Vladislav Izmodenov, Dmitry Alexashov, Joe Giacalone, John Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the geometry of interstellar magnetic field lines close to the boundary of the heliosphere in the direction of the unperturbed local interstellar magnetic field, where the field lines are spread apart by the heliopause (HP). Such field parting establishes a region of weaker magnetic field of about 300 au in size in the northern hemisphere that acts as a giant magnetic trap affecting the propagation of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs). The choice of an analytic model of the magnetic field in the very local interstellar medium allows us to qualitatively study the resulting magnetic field draping pattern while avoiding unphysical dissipation across the HP-impeding numerical magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) models. We investigate GCR transport in the region exterior to the heliosphere, including the magnetic trap, subject to guiding center drifts, pitch angle scattering, and perpendicular diffusion. The transport coefficients were derived from Voyager 1 observations of magnetic turbulence in the VLISM. Our results predict a ring current of energetic ions drifting around the interior of the magnetic trap. It is also demonstrated that GCRs cross the HP for the first time preferentially through a crescent-shaped region between the magnetic trap and the upwind direction. The paper includes results of MHD modeling of the heliosphere that provide the coordinates of the center of the magnetic trap in ecliptic coordinates. In addition to the heliosphere, we examine several extreme field draping configurations that could describe the astrospheres of other stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number244
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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