The details of the famous Zat al-Kursi supernova were illuminated by NASA’s new telescope

For the first time, astronomers have measured and mapped the X-ray magnetic polarization resulting from the remnants of a distant star's supernova explosion.>The results of the investigation of the stellar remnants known as "Cassiopeia A" can provide new insight into the nature of the remnants of young supernovae and their magnetic fields that accelerate particles to speeds close to the speed of light.

BingMag.com The details of the famous Zat al-Kursi supernova were illuminated by NASA’s new telescope

For the first time, astronomers have measured and mapped the X-ray magnetic polarization resulting from the remnants of a distant star's supernova explosion.>The results of the investigation of the stellar remnants known as "Cassiopeia A" can provide new insight into the nature of the remnants of young supernovae and their magnetic fields that accelerate particles to speeds close to the speed of light.

This The findings actually reveal a new method for reconstructing the explosive death of massive stars when they go supernova. a process that bombards the universe with heavier elements to form the next generation of stars.

For this research, Cas A, which is located at a distance of 11,000 light-years from us in the constellation Zat al-Kursi, was detected by the "Ray Polarization Imaging Probe" X" (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) of NASA was studied. Considering that the shock waves created by its supernova explosion event are the fastest in the Milky Way, this was the first object that the IXPE space observatory observed after launch.

These waves Shocks are created when the star runs out of fuel for nuclear fusion and loses its ability to resist gravity. In this way, it collapsed (collapsed in itself) and caused a huge explosion and sent out shock waves. The light from this supernova explosion reached Earth more than 300 years ago.

In the extreme conditions around a supernova such as Cas A, magnetic fields accelerate charged particles such as electrons and protons to speeds close to the speed of light, but with Having a very high speed, these particles are trapped in curved paths around the supernova.

While moving with relativistic speeds in curved paths, they produce an intense form of light called synchrotron radiation. This radiation in a range of electromagnetic wavelengths, including low-energy radio waves and high-energy X-rays, is emitted from the remnants of the supernova.

Emitted waves are polarized by magnetic fields, regardless of wavelength, and Their arrangement contains information about the supernova's magnetic field. Now, thanks to XP, astronomers can measure this polarization and reveal the secrets of Cas A.

"Pat Slane" (Pat Slane), head of the XP supernova study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in this regard: "Without XP "We were missing important information about objects like Cas A, but now we understand a fundamental aspect of the remnants of stellar explosions." reverse engineer and gain new details about Cas A and its magnetic field.

BingMag.com The details of the famous Zat al-Kursi supernova were illuminated by NASA’s new telescope

X-ray polarization in the Zat al-Kursi supernova
Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO; IXPE: NASA/MSFC

Reconstructing the explosive death scene of a star

The angle of polarization of the light from the remnants of a supernova indicates the direction of its magnetic field. Small amounts of polarization indicate that the magnetic fields are located close to the leading shock waves or the shock front. Because the magnetic fields near a shock are entangled, they create less orientation and polarization in different directions. "Jacco Vink" (Jacco Vink), an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam, said about this detection: "These IXPE results were not what We expected it, but as researchers, we love to be surprised. The fact that a smaller percentage of the X-ray spectrum is polarized is a very interesting and previously undiscovered property of Cas A.

Thus, the small polarization indicates that the X-rays from Cas A are in disordered regions with mixed They are produced from different directions of the magnetic field. Riccardo Ferrazzoli, another author of this study and a researcher at the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics said: "This study includes all the new things that IXPE has brought to astrophysics. brings. Not only have we obtained information about the X-ray polarization properties of these sources for the first time, but we also know how these properties change in different regions of the supernova." He emphasized: "As the first objective of the XP observation campaign, Cas A has been developed as an ideal astrophysical laboratory to test all the techniques and analytical tools developed."

Previously, observations of Cas A radio wave synchrotron radiation with radio telescopes have shown that this radiation is present in almost the entire remnant region of the supernova. it is produced. But only a small amount of these radio waves, that is, about 5%, are polarized. According to these radio wave data, Cas A's magnetic field appears to be distributed radially like the spokes of a bicycle wheel from its center to its outer edge. X-rays taken by NASA's Chandra tell a different story. This higher energy emission appears to originate from thin regions along the shock waves, near the outer edge of the Cas A circle, where the magnetic fields are predicted to align with the shocks.

BingMag.com The details of the famous Zat al-Kursi supernova were illuminated by NASA’s new telescope

A graphic design of the IXPE observatory in Earth orbit
Credit: NASA/MSFC

Prior to IXPE, scientists predicted that X-ray polarization occurs at 90 degrees (perpendicular) to the magnetic fields that polarize radio-wave radiation. But according to the XP data, the magnetic fields that polarize this high-energy beam are located radially close to the shock. Cas A X-rays also appear to be less polarized than radio waves.

Now the observatory will be used to study other supernova remnants. Astronomers expect that each observation will provide them with new information about these intense cosmic explosions and the environments they create. "These results provide a unique insight into the environment required to accelerate electrons to extremely high energies," said Mand. We're just at the beginning of this exploration, but the IXPE data has provided us with some good clues so far."

Cover photo: The supernova remnant Zat al-Kursi A as seen by the Chandra X-ray Telescope
Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO; IXPE: NASA/MSFC

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