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Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Astronomy.
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2015 (English)In: Astrophysical Journal Letters, ISSN 2041-8205, Vol. 801, no 1, L16Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present new Hubble Space Telescope images of high-velocity H alpha and Ly alpha emission in the outer debris of SN 1987 A. The Ha images are dominated by emission from hydrogen atoms crossing the reverse shock (RS). For the first time we observe emission from the RS surface well above and below the equatorial. ring (ER), suggesting a bipolar or conical structure perpendicular to the ring plane. Using the H alpha imaging, we measure the mass flux of hydrogen atoms crossing the RS front, in the velocity intervals (-7500 < V-obs < -2800 km s(-1)) and (1000 < V-obs < 7500 km s(-1)), (M)(H) over dot = 1.2 x 10(-3) M-circle dot yr(-1). We also present the first Ly alpha imaging of the whole remnant and new Chandra X-ray observations. Comparing the spatial distribution of the Ly alpha and X-ray emission, we observe that the majority of the high-velocity Ly alpha emission originates interior to the ER. The observed Ly alpha/H alpha photon ratio, < R(L alpha/H alpha)> approximate to 17, is significantly higher than the theoretically predicted ratio of approximate to 5 for neutral atoms crossing the RS front. We attribute this excess to Ly alpha emission produced by X-ray heating of the outer debris. The spatial orientation of the Ly alpha and X-ray emission suggests that X-ray heating of the outer debris is the dominant Ly alpha production mechanism in SN 1987 A at this phase in its evolution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 801, no 1, L16
Keyword [en]
circumstellar matter, shock waves, supernovae: individual (SN 1987A)
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115986DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/801/1/L16ISI: 000350262900016OAI: diva2:802096


Available from: 2015-04-10 Created: 2015-04-08 Last updated: 2015-04-10Bibliographically approved

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Fransson, ClaesLundqvist, Peter
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