Radio spectral index variations and physical conditions in Kepler's supernova remnant

Tracey DeLaney, Barron Koralesky, Lawrence Rudnick, John R. Dickel

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71 Scopus citations


A new epoch of VLA measurements of Kepler's supernova remnant (SNR) was obtained to make accurate measurements of the radio spectral index variations and polarization. We have compared these new radio images with Hα, infrared (IR), and X-ray data to better understand the three-dimensional structure and dynamics of Kepler's SNR and to better understand the physical relationships between the various non-thermal and thermal plasmas. Spatial variations in the radio spectral index from -0.85 to -0.6 are observed between 6 and 20 cm. The mean spectral index is -0.71. The mean percent polarization is 3.5% at 20 cm and 6% at 6 cm. There is a strong correspondence between the radial and azimuthal profiles of the radio, X-ray, Hα, and IR emission in different locations around the remnant, although there is no single, global pattern. Spectral tomography shows that the flat- and steep-spectrum radio emissions have distinct structures. The flat-spectrum radio emission is found at either a larger radius than or coincident with the steep-spectrum emission. We interpret these spectral components as tracing forward- and reverse-shocked material, respectively. The flat-spectrum radio emission can alternatively be interpreted as the bow shocked material (reshocked by the forward shock) from the progenitor's motion through the interstellar medium. The Hα and IR images are very similar. Their leading edges are coincident and are either in front of or coincident with the leading edges of the X-ray and radio emission. The X-ray emission matches the Hα and IR emission in places and, in other places, traces the steep-spectrum radio emission. In the north, there is also an anti-correlation in the azimuthal profiles around the remnant of the flat-spectrum radio emission and the thermal X-ray, Hα, and IR emissions. We suggest that this could be due to a relative weakening of the particle acceleration at the forward shock due to Alfvén wave damping in regions of high density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-927
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • ISM: individual (Kepler's supernova remnant)
  • Radio continuum: ISM
  • Supernova remnants


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