NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2010B-0362

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Proposal Information for 2010B-0362


PI: Arlin Crotts, Columbia University, arlin@astro.columbia.edu
Address: Department of Astronomy, 550 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027, U.S.A.

CoI: Steve Lawrence, Hofstra University
CoI: Steve Heathcote, SOAR

Title: Evolution of Supernova Remnant 1987A

Abstract: The collision between the ejecta of SN 1987A and its circumstellar ring is underway. Now and in the next few years, we are watching radical changes in the circumstellar nebula as it is overrun by ejecta expanding at a substantial fraction of c, giving birth to a supernova remnant. We have already discovered (and published) previously, by virtue of this observational program, new interactions between the nebula and ejecta, in the form of ``hot spots'' appearing at the rate of 3 to 5 per year, and we now see the whole inner surface beginning to interact. The collision is predicted (and has been observed) to produce intense IR and optical emission, in new and previously observed lines. Depending on whether they arise in the ejecta or nebula, and whether they are shock or EUV excited, these lines have widths from ~ 10 to 15,000 km s^-1. Frequent moderate-dispersion spectra are needed to monitor these features. This phenomenon is now entering a phase of collective evolution, in which many finer features are being washed out, and ionizing radiation is beginning to flood the entire structure. This means we should start to transition to an epoch when more observations are made from the ground than with the finer spatial resolution of HST. MIKE and the RC Spec are ideally suited to take over this task, treating velocity scales, wavelengths and time intervals not covered by \em HST, and allowing us to study for the first time ever the creation of a nearby supernova remnant.


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