The Galactic supernova remnant Cas A is believed to be the result of a recent (∼ 300 yrs) and nearby (D ∼ 3 kpc) explosion of a massive star. The discovery of gamma-ray line emission due to radioactive 44Ti with COMPTEL supports the massive star origin of Cas A. However, the ejection of 44Ti should be accompanied by large amounts of 56Ni and 57Ni, which would have made this a very bright supernova. No 17th century sightings of this event exist, with the notable exception of the ∼ 6th mag star 3 Cas reported by Sir John Flamsteed. This mystery may be solved by assuming that the supernova was enshrouded by a dusty envelope, perhaps provided by a pre-supernova wind. X-ray observations with ROSAT provide evidence for this scenario through the simultaneous analysis of absorption along the line of sight and the extended X-ray scattering halo around Cas A. The supernova shock destroyed the dust, reducing the line-of-sight opacity to a value consistent with a 3 kpc path through an average ISM. ROSAT detects the evaporated dust as excess absorption.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics