From astrobites: “Supernova Archeology with Radioactive Eyes”

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From astrobites

Jun 13, 2018
Maria Arias, guest author

Title: The distribution of radioactive 44Ti in Cassiopeia A
Authors: Brian Grefenstette et al.
First author institution: Caltech

Status: published in ApJ, open access version available

Massive stars die as core collapse supernovae: the star can no longer produce the nuclear reactions that balance its strong gravity, and the star collapses onto its core. When this happens, large amounts of energy and neutrons are available to form elements heavier than iron. The distribution of elements produced in the deepest layers of the star as it goes supernova is key to understanding the mechanism by which the collapse of the star leads to an explosion.Radioactive decay powers the optical light emitted by the supernova ~ 50−100 days after the explosion. In fact, we can still see radioactive signatures in remnants that are hundreds of years old. In today’s paper, the authors use high energy X-ray satellite NuStar observations to study the distribution of 44Ti in the young supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A).

NASA NuSTAR X-ray telescope

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44Ti Cas A map. Grefenstette et al 2017

The current distribution of radioactive elements and their decay products is linked to the local conditions in which they were synthesised when the explosion took place. Therefore, knowing where the 44Ti is now can shed light on the details of the supernova event that ended the life of Cas A’s progenitor star.

See the full article here .


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