The first measurement of Cassiopeia A's forward shock expansion rate

T. DeLaney, L. Rudnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We have obtained a second epoch observation of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant with the Chandra X-ray Observatory to measure detailed X-ray proper motions for the first time. Measurements of the X-ray continuum dominated filaments located around the edge of the remnant show expansion rates from 0.02% to 0.33% yr -1 . Their median value of 0.21% yr -1 is equal to the median expansion of the bright ring as measured in X-rays. We have also re-evaluated the motion of the radio bright ring with emphasis on angle-averaged emissivity profiles. Our new measurement of the expansion of the angle-averaged radio bright ring is 0.07 ± 0.03% yr -1 , slower than the previous radio measurements of 0.11% yr -1 which were sensitive to the motions of small-scale features. We propose that the expansion of the small-scale bright ring features in the optical, X-ray, and radio do not represent the expansion of the reverse shock, but rather represent a brightness-weighted average of ejecta passing through and being decelerated by the reverse shock. The motion of the reverse shock is represented by the motion of the angle-averaged emissivity profile of the radio bright ring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-428
Number of pages7
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported at the University of Minnesota under NSF Grant AST 96-19438 and Smithsonian grant SMITHSONIAN/GO1-2051A/NASA. We thank U. Hwang, R. Petre, and P. Plucinsky for help with the second epoch Chandra observations. We are grateful to M. Laming for providing solutions for a nonuniform CSM density profile. We appreciate discussions with M. Markevitch about the point spread function and plate scale of the ACIS-S3 chip. The VLA is operated by NRAO, which is a facility of NSF, operated under cooperative agreement by AUI.


  • Cassiopeia A
  • Expansion rate
  • Forward shock
  • Proper motion
  • Supernova remnant


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