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X-ray Observations

Figure 1 shows a 104 ks observation of Tycho taken by the HRI in February 1995. This image is about five times deeper than any previous high resolution X-ray image and it reveals interesting new features. Most notable is the weak rim of emission seen clearly around the entire remnant, which is believed to be the blast wave propagating through the surrounding circumstellar medium. The time baseline between this pointing and the first epoch one (done in July 1990) was about 4.5 years, roughly 1% of the SNR's age. A number of techniques were developed to estimate background (made difficult by the strong grain scattering halo from Tycho), generate exposure maps (including telescope vignetting and spatial variations of the HRI quantum efficiency), correct for aspect drift, and finally align the images. The contours on the image show small-scale-size regions where a significant change in X-ray flux has occurred in 4.5 years. Notice that the increased brightness regions (solid contours) are distributed around the periphery of the remnant, while the regions of dimming (dashed contours) appear further in. Simulations were used to assess the significance of these features and I find that most of the flux changes are real and represent evidence for expansion of Tycho's SNR.

Figure 1.: Deep ROSAT HRI soft (0.2- 2 keV band) X-ray image of Tycho's SNR. Solid (dashed) contours show regions of increased (decreased) flux when this image is compared to one taken 4.5 years earlier. The contour levels are in units of tex2html_wrap_inline119 and the ones shown correspond to values of -4, -3, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

I determined the expansion rate by examining the count rates in azimuthal sectors of a thin radial region at the edge of the remnant. Quantitative results were obtained by shifting the first epoch image along the direction of the center of each sector until the count rates in the old and new images, from that azimuthal region, were the same. The X-ray expansion rates as a function of azimuthal angle are shown in Figure 2 along with radio and optical results for comparison. Note that each azimuthal sector was tex2html_wrap_inline171 wide, although we show results for sectors with centers separated by tex2html_wrap_inline173 .

Figure 2.: Expansion of Tycho's SNR in the X-ray, optical, and radio bands. The rate corresponding to the Sedov expansion law (n=0.4) is shown as the horizontal dashed line. The X-ray points at tex2html_wrap_inline127 and tex2html_wrap_inline129 include the location of the bright knots in the southeastern quadrant of Tycho. Note that these points are consistent with undecelerated motion (a value of 0.24% yr tex2html_wrap_inline131 ).

The azimuthally-averaged current expansion rate of the outermost rim of the X-ray remnant is tex2html_wrap_inline133 tex2html_wrap_inline135 yr tex2html_wrap_inline131 (90% confidence level errors). For a radial region that is slightly interior to this but which still precedes the brightest ring of emission, I find a slower expansion rate tex2html_wrap_inline189 tex2html_wrap_inline135 yr tex2html_wrap_inline131 . When the age, t of a remnant is known, it is possible to express its expansion rate in terms of tex2html_wrap_inline197 , where tex2html_wrap_inline199 is the angular size. The mean radii of the selected radial regions in Tycho are 248.9 tex2html_wrap_inline135 and 238.2 tex2html_wrap_inline135 so the expansion rates are tex2html_wrap_inline205 (outer edge) and tex2html_wrap_inline207 (inner edge). The radio data, as analyzed by Tan & Gull (1985), give an average expansion rate of n=0.462. One possible explanation for the difference with the X-ray results may be that the radio expansion was obtained over the entire radial extent of the remnant. This would tend to ``dilute'' the effect of the fastest moving material at the outermost rim of the remnant.

next up previous
Next: Discussion Up: THE EXPANSION OF THE Previous: Introduction

John Hughes
Mon Sep 8 18:50:51 EDT 1997