37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 50 Recording Star Events
HAD Oral, Thursday, September 8, 2005, 11:00am-12:30pm, Umney Theatre, Robinson College

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[50.03] Which Historical New Stars Were Supernovae?

F.R. Stephenson (University of Durham)

To date, more than two hundred supernova remnants (SNRs) have been detected in our Galaxy at radio and other wavelengths. However, by comparison the number of Galactic supernovae (SN) which have been identified is extremely small. Furthermore, the most recent outburst which can be definitely established occurred as long ago as AD 1604, and thus before the introduction of the telescope. There can be little doubt that obscuring matter in the region of the galactic plane is largely responsible for this shortfall. If a Galactic SN can be identified from historical observations and linked with a known SNR, the precise age of the SNR may be established; such determinations are important in physical modelling of the SN process. However, the investigation of early records of SN present a variety of problems. Two separate techniques have been generally employed: (i) a careful study of individual observations of potential SN among historical records of `new stars' followed by association of the more successful candidates with catalogued SNRs; (ii) the reverse process -- selecting supposedly young Galactic SNRs and then making a historical search for reports of the original outburst. In this paper, the advantages and disadvantages of both techniques will be discussed with examples. The ultimate aim is to maximise the efficiency and reliability of SN:SNR identification.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.