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About this Image
Images of the remnant of the supernova which exploded in 1006 (Rothenflug et al., 2004 A&A 425,121). Top left: False color image (SQRT levels) in low energy X-rays, showing mostly the thermal gas emitting Oxygen K lines. Top right: False color image (SQRT levels) in high energy X-rays, showing mostly the highest energy particles (TeV) emitting synchrotron radiation. Bottom left: Three-color image (SQRT levels) summarizing the spectral changes in which red is the 0.5 to 0.8 keV band, green is the 0.8 to 2 keV band and blue the 2 to 4.5 keV band. All X-ray images are mosaics from 6 observations. Bottom right: False color image (linear levels) in the radio band, showing lower energy particles (GeV) emitting synchrotron radiation. The bright horizontal feature (yellow) to the left is a background radio galaxy. The patches of emission in the lower left and upper right corners are artefacts. A number of point sources, unrelated to the supernova remnant, are visible in all images.
Astronomers believe that cosmic-rays (high energy particles which pervade the Galaxy, including the Solar system) are accelerated at the shocks created in the interstellar matter by supernova explosions. In the interstellar magnetic field, accelerated electrons radiate synchrotron emission from the radio to the X-rays. The resulting supernova remnants shine brightly, because the accelerated particles are concentrated there (at the source) and the magnetic field is larger than in the unperturbed interstellar medium. The XMM Newton images of SN 1006 illustrate how the acceleration works. By comparing the top left and top right images, it is clear that the gas is more or less homogeneous, while the accelerated particles are concentrated in two bright limbs. Those crescents are thought to be polar caps (the supernova remnant is a sphere), corresponding to the direction of the pre-supernova magnetic field. More particles are accelerated where the shock propagates along the magnetic field lines. By comparing the top right and bottom right images, it is apparent that the high energy particles (emitting in X-rays) are more concentrated in the limbs than the lower energy particles (emitting in the radio). This means that not only are more particles accelerated there, but they are also accelerated faster.
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