Student: Emily Silich, Undergraduate Student in Astronomy, Physics, and Mathematics, University of Iowa
Research Mentor: Philip Kaaret
HaloSat Observations of the Vela and Puppis A Supernova Remnants
I am performing an investigation into the soft X-ray spectra of the Vela and Puppis A supernova remnants with HaloSat data. The Vela SNR is among the brightest and largest sources in the soft X-ray sky, with a diameter of approximately 8 degrees. It is estimated to be a middle-aged SNR with its primary X-ray emission being due to two thermal components of heated interstellar cloud matter. The Vela SNR is along the same line-of-sight as the Puppis A SNR, so that the two SNRs overlap from our perspective. The Puppis A SNR is also among the brightest sources in the soft X-ray sky. Younger than the Vela SNR, the Puppis A SNR has an X-ray spectrum dominated by shock-heated interstellar material. HaloSat is NASA’s first astrophysics CubeSat mission which is sensitive to X-ray emission in the 0.4 − 7 keV band. It is the first instrument to observe the entire Vela SNR within its field of view in the soft X-ray band with moderate spectral resolution. With HaloSat data, I utilize the XSPEC X-ray spectral fitting package to identify spectral components from each SNR and determine the most accurate models to simultaneously fit them. From these models, I characterize the plasma temperatures, elemental abundances, interstellar absorptions, X-ray luminosities, and ionization timescales for each SNR. I am currently writing a paper on this analysis which will be submitted to the Astrophysical Journal and form the basis of my honors thesis.