Context. Spectral analysis of X-ray emission from ejecta in supernova remnants (SNRs) is hampered by the low spectral resolution of CCD detectors, which typically creates a degeneracy between the best-fit values of chemical abundances and the plasma emission measure. The combined contribution of shocked ambient medium and ejecta to the emerging X-ray emission further complicates the determination of the ejecta mass and chemical composition. This degeneracy leads to big uncertainties in mass estimates and can introduce a bias in the comparison between the ejecta chemical composition derived from the observations and the yields predicted by explosive nucleosynthesis models. Aims. We explore the capabilities of present and future spectral instruments with the aim of identifying a spectral feature that may allow us to discriminate between metal-rich and pure-metal plasmas in X-ray spectra of SNRs. Methods. We studied the behavior of the most common X-ray emission processes of an optically thin plasma in the high-abundance regime. We investigated spectral features of bremsstrahlung, radiative recombination continua (RRC), and line emission, by exploring a wide range of chemical abundances, plasma temperatures, and ionization parameters. We then synthesized X-ray spectra from a state-of-the-art 3D hydrodynamic simulation of Cas A, by using the response matrix from the Chandra ACIS-S charged-coupled device detector and that of the XRISM/Resolve X-ray calorimeter spectrometer. Results. We found that a bright RRC shows up when the plasma is made of pure-metal ejecta, and a high spectral resolution is needed to actually identify this ejecta signature. We tested and verified the applicability of our novel diagnostic tool and we propose a promising target for the future detection of such spectral feature: the southeastern Fe-rich clump of Cas A. Conclusions. While there is no way to unambiguously reveal pure-metal ejecta emission with CCD detectors, X-ray calorimeters will be able to pinpoint the presence of pure-metal RRC and to recover correctly absolute mass and the chemical composition of the ejecta, opening a new window on the link between progenitor star, supernova and SNRs.
|Numero di pagine||12|
|Rivista||ASTRONOMY & ASTROPHYSICS|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2020|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science