The 3-D structure of SN 1987A's inner ejecta*
Astrophysics Research Centre, Physics Building, Queen's University Belfast, County Antrim, BT7 1NN, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 ESO, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
3 Excellence Cluster Universe, Technische Universität München, Boltzmannstr. 2, Garching 85748, Germany
4 Dept. of Astronomy, Stockholm University, AlbaNova, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
5 The Oskar Klein Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden
Accepted: 1 July 2010
Context. Observing the inner ejecta of a supernova is possible only in a handful of nearby supernova remnants. The core-collapse explosion mechanism has been extensively explored in recent models and predict large asymmetries. SN 1987A is the first modern stellar explosion that has been continuously observed from its beginning to the supernova remnant phase. Twenty years after the explosion, we are now able to observe the three-dimensional spatially resolved inner ejecta of this supernova.
Aims. Detailed mapping of newly synthesised material and its radioactive decay daughter products sheds light on the explosion mechanism. This may reveal the geometry of the explosion and its connection to the equatorial ring and the outer rings around SN 1987A.
Methods. We have used integral field spectroscopy to image the supernova ejecta and the equatorial ring in the emission lines of [Si I] + [Fe II] (λ1.64 μm) and He I (λ2.058 μm). The spectral information can be mapped into a radial velocity image revealing the expansion of the ejecta both as projected onto the sky and perpendicular to the sky plane.
Results. The inner ejecta are spatially resolved in a North-South direction and are clearly asymmetric. Like the ring emission, the northern parts of the ejecta are blueshifted, while the material projected to the South of the supernova centre is moving away from us. We argue that the bulk of the ejecta is situated in the same plane as defined by the equatorial ring and does not form a bipolar structure as has been suggested. The exact shape of the ejecta is modelled and we find that an elongated triaxial ellipsoid fits the observations best. The velocity measured in the [Si I] + [Fe II] line corresponds to ~3000 km s-1 and is the same as the width of the IR [Fe II] line profiles during the first years. From our spectral analyses of the ejecta spectrum we find that most of the He I, [Si I] and [Fe I-II] emission originates in the core material which has undergone explosive nucleosynthesis. The He I emission may be the result of α-rich freeze-out if the positron energy is deposited locally.
Conclusions. Our observations clearly indicate a non-symmetric explosion mechanism for SN 1987A. The elongation and velocity asymmetries point towards a large-scale spatial non-spherical distribution as predicted in recent explosion models. The orientation of the ejecta in the plane of the equatorial ring argues against a jet-induced explosion through the poles due to stellar rotation.
Key words: supernovae: individual: SN 1987A
© ESO, 2010