The collapse of a massive star and the resulting supernova explosion are dramatic events which both complete the stellar life cycle and regulate the structure of the Galaxy's interstellar medium. However, we don't yet fully understand how stars explode; constraints on the many complicated processes which occur during core collapse or thermonuclear detonation are desperately needed. Since we rarely see a nearby star go supernova, our focus is on studying the aftermaths of supernova explosions, namely supernova remnants. By observing this diverse class of objects, we can infer properties of the supernova, the progenitor star, and the progenitor's surroundings. We combine these observations with hydrodynamical models to gain new insight into the micro- and macro-physics of the supernova process, on the properties of supernova progenitors, and on the mechanisms which produce the diversity we see in Galactic supernova remnants.
Gaensler, Fred Seward, Joseph Gelfand, Anne Lemiere, Paul
Plucinsky, Paul Gorenstein, Terrance Gaetz,
Ralph Tuellmann, Kelly Korreck
Kepler's SNR: this young, Galactic SNR is believed to be the result of
a Type Ia supernova that was observed in 1604 by
Johannes Kepler. Here, red represents low-energy
X-rays (mostly oxygen) which has been heated by
the blast wave from the supernova. Yellow and
green represent higher energy X-rays which are
produced from heavier elements, such as
iron. The blue corresponds to nonthermal
synchrotron emission which is primarily
generated at the shock front as the blast wave
expands into the surrounding material.