Properties and spatial distribution of dust emission in the crab nebula

Tea Temim, George Sonneborn, Eli Dwek, Richard G. Arendt, Robert D. Gehrz, Patrick Slane, Thomas L. Roellig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Recent infrared (IR) observations of freshly formed dust in supernova remnants have yielded significantly lower dust masses than predicted by theoretical models and measured from high-redshift observations. The Crab Nebula's pulsar wind is thought to be sweeping up freshly formed supernova (SN) dust along with the ejected gas. The evidence for this dust was found in the form of an IR excess in the integrated spectrum of the Crab and in extinction against the synchrotron nebula that revealed the presence of dust in the filament cores. We present the first spatially resolved emission spectra of dust in the Crab Nebula acquired with the Infrared Spectrograph on board the Spitzer Space Telescope. The IR spectra are dominated by synchrotron emission and show forbidden line emission from S, Si, Ne, Ar, O, Fe, and Ni. We derived a synchrotron spectral map from the 3.6 and 4.5 μm images, and subtracted this contribution from our data to produce a map of the residual continuum emission from dust. The dust emission appears to be concentrated along the ejecta filaments and is well described by an amorphous carbon or silicate grain compositions. We find a dust temperature of 55 ± 4K for silicates and 60 ± 7K for carbon grains. The total estimated dust mass is (1.2-12) × 10-3 M, well below the theoretical dust yield predicted for a core-collapse supernova. Our grain heating model implies that the dust grain radii are relatively small, unlike what is expected for dust grains formed in a Type IIP SN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number72
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012


  • Dust, extinction
  • ISM: individual objects (Crab Nebula)
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • Infrared: ISM


Dive into the research topics of 'Properties and spatial distribution of dust emission in the crab nebula'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this