Mapping the spectral index of Cassiopeia A : evidence for flattening from radio to infrared
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Synchrotron radiation from supernova remnants is caused by electrons accelerated through diffusive shock acceleration (DSA). The standard DSA theory predicts an electron spectral index of p = 2, corresponding to a radio spectral index of α = −0.5. An extension of DSA theory predicts that the accelerated particles change the shock structure, resulting in a spectrum that is steeper than p > 2 (α < −0.5) at low energies and flattens with energy. For Cassiopeia A, a synchrotron spectral flattening was previously reported for a small part of the remnant in the mid-infrared regime. Here, we present new measurements for spectral flattening using archival radio (4.72 GHz) and mid-infrared (3.6 μm) data, and we produce a complete spectral index map to investigate the spatial variations within the remnant. We compare this to measurements of the radio spectral index from L-band (1.285 GHz) and C-band (4.64 GHz) maps. Our result shows overall spectral flattening across the remnant (αR-IR ∼ −0.5 to −0.7), to be compared with the radio spectral index of αR = −0.77. The flattest values coincide with the locations of most recent particle acceleration. In addition to overall flattening, we detect a relatively steeper region in the south-east of the remnant (αR-IR ∼ −0.67). We explore whether these locally steeper spectra could be the result of synchrotron cooling, which provides constraints on the local magnetic field strengths and the age of the plasma, suggesting B ≲ 2 mG for an age of 100 yr, and even B ≲ 1 mG using the age of Cas A, in agreement with other estimates.
Domček , V , Vink , J , Hernández Santisteban , J V , DeLaney , T & Zhou , P 2021 , ' Mapping the spectral index of Cassiopeia A : evidence for flattening from radio to infrared ' , Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society , vol. 502 , no. 1 , pp. 1026-1040 . https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/staa3896
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/staa3896.
DescriptionFunding: The work of VD is supported by a grant from the NWO graduate programme/GRAPPA-PhD programme. JVHS acknowledges support from the STFC grant ST/R000824/1.
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