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Student Worksheet: Identifying Elements in Supernova Remnants

Procedure

  1. Print out the three simulated spectra of the Tycho supernova remnant:
    • Simulated ASCA Spectrum (doc, pdf)
    • Simulated Astro-E Spectrum (doc, pdf)
    • Simulated Constellation-X Spectrum (doc, pdf)
  2. Use the X-ray line chart below to identify the elements that correspond to the various peaks of emission seen in the spectra. (You can write directly on the printed spectra).
  3. Answer the Think About questions.

Energies of Elemental Spectral Line Features

Element Energy (keV)
O
O
Ne
Ne
Mg
Mg
Si
Si
S
S
Ar
Ar
Ca
Ca
Fe
Fe
0.547
0.654
0.922
1.022
1.352
1.471
1.865
2.006
2.461
2.632
3.140
3.323
3.903
4.108
6.701
6.973

Think About

  • Using spectra, how does an astronomer determine the composition of a star or supernova remnant?
  • List some differences and similarities in the spectra from the three X-ray observatories (ASCA, Astro-E,and Constellation X).
  • Were you able to determine with better accuracy what elements were present in the Astro-E spectra and Con-X spectra as compared to the ASCA spectra? If so, why?

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