The unprecedented spatial and spectral resolutions of Chandra have revolutionized our view of the X-ray emission from supernova remnants. The excellent datasets accumulated on young, ejecta-dominated objects like Cas A or Tycho present a unique opportunity to study at the same time the chemical and physical structure of the explosion debris and the characteristics of the circumstellar medium sculpted by the progenitor before the explosion. Supernova remnants can thus put strong constraints on fundamental aspects of both supernova explosion physics and stellar evolution scenarios for supernova progenitors. This view of the supernova phenomenon is completely independent of, and complementary to, the study of distant extragalactic supernovae at optical wavelengths. The calibration of these two techniques has recently become possible thanks to the detection and spectroscopic follow-up of supernova light echoes. In this paper, I review the most relevant results on supernova remnants obtained during the first decade of Chandra and the impact that these results have had on open issues in supernova research.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
- Pub Date:
- April 2010
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
- 6 pages, 7 figures, invited review to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (part of the special 'First decade of Chandra' issue)