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P. O. Slane (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
X-ray studies of shell-type supernova remnants (SNRs) provide direct probes of the thermal and ionization states of shock-heated gas. For some remnants, spatially resolved spectra allow us to separate the swept-up material from reverse-shock heated ejecta, thus providing a probe of the circumstellar medium as well as a map of the nucleosynthesis products from the explosion and the progenitor star. With the high resolution and sensitivity of current X-ray telescopes, recent measurements have literally revolutionized our knowledge of the structure and evolution of SNRs. No less so is this true of pulsar wind nebulae (PWNe). For isolated PWNe as well as those nestled inside of SNRs, current observations are providing a direct glimpse of the decelerated pulsar wind as well as a map of the outflowing material.
Using examples including SNRs and PWNe from our Galaxy as well as the Magellanic Clouds, I will summarize recent X-ray observations that have shown us circumstellar shells from progenitor winds, the aftermath of Type Ia supernovae, ejecta products persisting through the middle ages of SNRs, and particle-dominated pulsar winds.
Support from NASA contract NAS8-39073 and grant GO0-1117A is gratefully acknowledged.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society,
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.