Nucleosynthesis and mixing in Cassiopeia A

John P. Hughes, Cara E. Rakowski, David N. Burrows, Patrick O. Slane

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228 Scopus citations


We present results from the first light observations of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant (SNR) by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Based on representative spectra from four selected regions, we investigate the processes of nucleosynthesis and mixing in Cas A. We make the first unequivocal identification of iron-rich ejecta produced by explosive silicon burning in a young Galactic SNR. Elsewhere in the remnant, we see silicon-rich ejecta from explosive oxygen burning. The Fe-rich ejecta lie outside the Si-rich material, indicating that bulk motions were extensive and energetic enough in Cas A to cause a spatial inversion of a significant portion of the supernova core. It is likely that this inversion was caused by "Fe"-rich ejecta emerging in plumes from the rising bubbles in the neutrino-driven convection layer during the supernova explosion. In addition, the radioactive decay energy from 56Ni may have contributed to the subsequent evolution of the material. We have also discovered faint, well-defined filaments with featureless X-ray spectra that are possibly sites of cosmic-ray acceleration in Cas A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L109-L113
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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