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P. Slane (CfA)
With sub-arcsecond angular resolution accompanied by a broad spectral bandpass and spatially resolved spectral capabilities, the Chandra X-ray Observatory provides a unique capability for the study of supernova remnants. In only the first year of operation, Chandra has already returned stunning images of SNRs which reveal the distribution of ejecta synthesized in the stellar explosions, the distinct properties of the forward and reverse shocks, and the presence of faint shells surrounding compact remnants. Studies of the emission spectra on small spatial scales have revealed variations in the composition of ejecta and in the ionization state of shocked regions. High resolution images have identified clear finger-like structures produced by Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities at the shock interface. Hard-band imaging has uncovered underlying synchrotron nebulae which harbor compact sources, presumably representing neutron stars produced in the stellar explosions, and the spectra of these nebulae show radial variations associated with the finite lifetime of synchrotron emitting electrons injected in the central regions.
Perhaps most importantly, the high angular resolution now presents us with the opportunity for comparisons of unique emission regions in different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, finally providing a complement to optical and high resolution radio images. In this talk I will discuss these and other results from early Chandra investigations of SNRs, and summarize ongoing and upcoming studies expected to broaden other horizons in SNR research.
The author's work is supported in part by NASA contract NAS8-39073.
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