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Chandra image of the NE shell of SN 1006
Credit: A. Bamba, R. Yamazaki, M. Ueno, and K. Koyama, The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 589, pg. 827


Resolving the Accelerator

Energetic sub-atomic particles called cosmic rays bombard the earth from space. The source of these cosmic rays have long been a mystery. Astronomers have suspected that some cosmic rays are accelerated by shocks formed from supernova explosions, an idea confirmed by observations of the supernova remnant SN 1006 by the ASCA X-ray observatory. Now the Chandra X-ray observatory has enabled astronomers to find out the precise location of the cosmic ray acceleration in this supernova remnant. The image above shows a "true color" image of the northeast shell of SN 1006 where cosmic ray acceleration was previously identified by ASCA. The Chandra image shows thick regions of hot shocked gas, surrounding thin filaments where cosmic rays originate. The Chandra image suggests that the efficiency of cosmic-ray production in SN 1006 is surprisingly high.


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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:24:07 EDT