Molecules and dust in Cassiopeia A
I. Synthesis in the supernova phase and processing by the reverse shock in the clumpy remnant
Physik Departement, Universität Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 82, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
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Received: 29 October 2013
Accepted: 28 January 2014
Aims. We study the chemistry of the type IIb supernova ejecta, which led to the Cas A supernova remnant, to assess the chemical type and quantity of dust that forms and evolves in the remnant phase. We later model a dense oxygen-rich ejecta knot, which is crossed by the reverse shock in Cas A, to study the evolution of the clump gas phase and the possibility to reform dust clusters in the post-reverse shock gas.
Methods. The chemistry is described by a chemical network that includes all possible processes that are efficient at high gas temperatures and densities. The formation of key bimolecular species (e.g., CO and SiO) and dust clusters of silicates, alumina, silica, metal carbides and sulphides, pure metals, and amorphous carbon is considered. A set of stiff, coupled ordinary differential equations is solved for the conditions pertaining to both the SN ejecta and the post-reverse shock gas.
Results. We find that the ejecta of type IIb SNe are unable to form large amounts of molecules and molecular clusters that are precursors to dust grains, when compared to their type II-P counterparts, because of their diffuse ejecta. The ejecta gas density needs to be increased by several orders of magnitude to allow for the formation of dust clusters. We show that the chemical composition of the dust clusters that form changes drastically and gains in chemical complexity with increasing gas density. Hence, the ejecta of the Cas A supernova progenitor must have been in the form of dense clumps to account for the dust chemical composition and masses that have been inferred from infrared observations of Cas A. As for the impact of the reverse shock on dense ejecta clumps, we show that the ejecta molecules that are destroyed by the shock reform in the post-reverse shock gas with lower abundances than those of the initial ejecta clump, except for SiO. These molecules include CO, SiS, and O2. On the other hand, dust clusters are destroyed by the reverse shock and do not reform in the post-reverse shock gas, even for the highest gas density. These results indicate that the synthesis of dust grains out of the gas phase in the dense knots of Cas A and in other supernova remnants is unlikely.
Key words: astrochemistry / molecular processes / ISM: supernova remnants / circumstellar matter / supernovae: general / dust, extinction
© ESO, 2014