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Astronomy Colloquium

Thursday, January 31, 2013
5:00 AM
Dennison 807

X-ray Observations of Cosmic Ray Acceleration in SN 1006 and Other Supernova Remnants

Recent spatially resolved X-ray spectroscopy of young supernova remnants (SNRs) has led to the solution of a century-old mystery – the source of Galactic cosmic rays. SN 1006, the remnant of the brightest supernova explosion ever observed, provided the original evidence that diffusive shock acceleration in supernova remnants produces cosmic rays to TeV energies, possibly as high as the “knee” in the cosmic ray spectrum at ~10^15 eV. Shock acceleration is now established as a ubiquitous process in historical SNRs. Shock morphologies measured in X-rays have indicated that a substantial fraction of the shock energy might be diverted into particle acceleration, and provided insight into the strength and the structure of magnetic field behind the SNR blast wave. Because of its large extent and the dominance of synchrotron emission from relativistic particles in its X-ray spectrum, SN 1006 continues to serve as one of the best laboratories for probing shock acceleration. This presentation will summarize what we have learned about cosmic ray acceleration from X-ray observations of supernova remnants, using SN 1006 as a focal point, and in particular the results from a recently completed mapping program of it using Chandra.

Rob Petre (X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory, NASA/GSFC)