Monitoring the evolution of the X-ray remnant of SN 1987A

Sangwook Park, David N. Burrows, Gordon P. Garmire, John A. Nousek, Richard McCray, Eli Michael, Svetozar Zhekov

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We report on the results of our monitoring program of the remnant of SN 1987A with the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) on board the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Two new observations have been performed in AO2, bringing the total to four monitoring observations over the past 2 years. Over this time period, new techniques for correction of "charge transfer inefficiency" (CTI) and for use of charge spreading to provide angular resolution somewhat better than the pixel size of the CCD detector have become available at Pennsylvania State University. We have processed all four observations using subpixel resolution to obtain the highest possible angular resolution and using our CTI correction software to provide more reliable spectral analysis and flux estimations. The high angular resolution images indicate that the X-ray-bright knots are convincingly correlated with the optical spots, primarily at ≲ 1 keV, while higher energy photons are very well correlated with radio images. Our data also provide marginal evidence for radial expansion of the X-ray remnant at a rate of 5200 ± 2100 km s -1. The X-ray flux appears to linearly increase by ∼60% over the 18 month period of these observations. The spectrum is dominated by broad complexes of atomic emission lines and can be fitted with a simple model of a plane-parallel shock with electron temperatures of kT ∼2-4 keV and a postshock electron density of ne ∼ 210-420 cm-3. The implied 0.5-10 keV band luminosity in 2001 April is ∼1.3 × 10 35 ergs s-1; as of that date, we still observe no direct evidence for the central point source, with an upper limit on the observed luminosity of LX ∼ 5.5 × 1033 ergs s -1 in the 2-10 keV band.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-322
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Mar 1 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Park, S., Burrows, D. N., Garmire, G. P., Nousek, J. A., McCray, R., Michael, E., & Zhekov, S. (2002). Monitoring the evolution of the X-ray remnant of SN 1987A. Astrophysical Journal, 567(1 I), 314-322.