Since the day of its explosion, SN 1987A (SN87A) was closely monitored with the aim to study its evolution and to detect its central compact relic. The detection of neutrinos from the supernova strongly supports the formation of a neutron star (NS). However, the constant and fruitless search for this object has led to different hypotheses on its nature. To date, the detection in the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array data of a feature that is somehow compatible with the emission arising from a proto-pulsar wind nebula (PWN) is the only hint of the existence of such elusive compact object. Here we tackle this 33 yr old issue by analyzing archived observations of SN87A performed by Chandra and NuSTAR in different years. We firmly detect nonthermal emission in the 10-20 kev energy band, due to synchrotron radiation. The possible physical mechanism powering such emission is twofold: Diffusive shock acceleration (DSA) or emission arising from an absorbed PWN. By relating a state-of-the-art magnetohydrodynamic simulation of SN87A to the actual data, we reconstruct the absorption pattern of the PWN embedded in the remnant and surrounded by cold ejecta. We found that, even though the DSA scenario cannot be firmly excluded, the most likely scenario that well explains the data is that of PWN emission.
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science