The Supernova 1993J

Detection of soft X-rays from SN 1993J six days after outburst

One of the most spectacular events in 1993 was the supernova 1993J in the galaxy M81. We were able with ROSAT to make the first detection of X-ray emission from the supernova barely six days after the explosion at March 27, 1993 (Fig. 1). This observation stands as the earliest discovery to date of X-ray emission from a supernova. The X-ray emission, corresponding to a luminosity of 3 × 1039 erg/s, arises in shock-heated regions of the progenitor wind at temperatures of about a Billion Kelvin. By November 1993 these temperatures had decayed to about 10 Million Kelvin. In parallel there is a significant increase in the absorption by material surrounding the supernova. For the first time the data have been sufficiently comprehensive to construct detailed models of the heating and cooling processes and of the structure of the wind zone.

[ROSAT image of the SN 1993J]

Figure 1: X-ray emission from the supernova SN 1993J in the galaxy M81 was discovered by ROSAT only six days after the explosion at the end of March 1993. The supernova location, south of the center of M81, is indicated by the arrow (right half of the picture). In an earlier observation in October 1992, no X-ray emission was detected at the supernova position (left half of the picture).

Zimmermann H.-U., Lewin, W., Predehl P., Aschenbach B., Fabbiano G., Hasinger G., Lubin L., Magnier E., van Paradijs J., Petre R., Pietsch W., and Trümper J., Nature 367, 621-623 (1994)

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