NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2010B-0335

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Proposal Information for 2010B-0335


PI: Robert A. Fesen, Dartmouth College, Robert.A.Fesen@dartmouth.edu
Address: Physics Department, 6127 Wilder Laboratory, Hanover, NH 03755, USA

CoI: Dan Milisavljevic, Dartmouth College

Title: Spectra of Cas A's Highest Velocity Ejecta

Abstract: The young age and close distance of the Galactic supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A) make it perhaps our best case study and clearest look at the explosion dynamics of a core-collapse supernova (CCSN). Interestingly, Cas A exhibits two nearly opposing streams of high velocity ejecta or `jets' in its NE and SW regions racing outward at speeds more than twice that of the main shell. The nature of these jets, however, and their possible association with an aspherical supernova explosion mechanism is controversial. A handful of existing low-resolution spectra of outer knots in the NE jet display chemical abundances hinting at an origin from the S-Si-Ca- Ar rich layer deep inside the progenitor. If these abundances could be firmly established in both the NE and SW jets, it would be very strong evidence in support of a highly asymmetrical explosion engine for Cas A's progenitor and, in turn, for CCSNe in general. We request KPNO 4m telescope + MARS time to obtain high quality multi-object spectroscopy of Cas A's highest velocity ejecta to measure their nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen, calcium, and argon abundances. These spectra will be analyzed with the metal-rich shock models of J. Raymond and then compared to current sets of CCSN models paying particular attention to knot composition vs. ejection velocity and ejecta mixing.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2010B-0335

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