The rebirth of Supernova 1987A : a study of the ejecta-ring collision
Supernovae are some of the most energetic phenomena in the Universe and they have throughout history fascinated people as they appeared as new stars in the sky. Supernova (SN) 1987A exploded in the nearby satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), at a distance of only 168,000 light years. The proximity of SN 1987A offers a unique opportunity to study the medium surrounding the supernova in great detail. Powered by the dynamical interaction of the ejecta with the inner circumstellar ring, SN 1987A is dramatically evolving at all wavelengths on time scales less than a year. This makes SN 1987A a great ``laboratory'' for studies of shock physics. Repeated observations of the ejecta-ring collision have been carried out using the UVES echelle spectrograph at VLT. This thesis covers seven epochs of high resolution spectra taken between October 1999 and November 2007. Three different emission line components are identified from the spectra. A narrow (~10 km/s) velocity component emerges from the unshocked ring. An intermediate (~250 km/s) component arises in the shocked ring, and a broad component extending to ~15,000 km/s comes from the reverse shock. Thanks to the high spectral resolution of UVES, it has been possible to separate the shocked from the unshocked ring emission. For the unshocked gas, ionization stages from neutral up to Ne V and Fe VII were found. The line fluxes of the low-ionization lines decline during the period of the observations. However, the fluxes of the [O III] and [Ne III] lines appear to increase and this is found to be consistent with the heating of the pre-shock gas by X-rays from the shock interactions. The line emission from the ejecta-ring collision increases rapidly as more gas is swept up by the shocks. This emission comes from ions with a range of ionization stages (e.g., Fe II-XIV). The low-ionization lines show an increase in their line widths which is consistent with that these lines originate from radiative shocks. The high-ionization line profiles (Fe X-XIV) initially show larger spectral widths, which indicates that at least a fraction of the emission comes from non-radiative shocks.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Physics; Astronomy and astrophysics; supernovae; SN 1987A; circumstellar matter; shock waves; astronomi; Astronomy
Date of Publication:01/01/2008