The X-ray emission of the supernova remnant W49B observed with XMM-Newton

M. Miceli, A. Decourchelle, J. Ballet, F. Bocchino, J. P. Hughes, U. Hwang, R. Petre

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Context. In the framework of the study of supernova remnants and their complex interaction with the interstellar medium, we report on an XMM-Newton EPIC observation of the Galactic supernova remnant W49B. Aims. We investigated the spatial distribution of the chemical and physical properties of the plasma, so as to get important constraints on the physical scenario, on the dynamics of the supernova explosion, and on the interaction of the supernova remnant with the ambient interstellar clouds. Methods. We present line images, equivalent width maps, and a spatially resolved spectral analysis of a set of homogeneous regions. Results. The X-ray spectrum of W49B is characterized by strong K emission lines from Si, S, Ar, Ca, and Fe. In all the regions studied, the X-ray spectrum is dominated by the emission from the ejecta and there is no indication of radial stratification of the elements. A high overabundance of Ni (Ni/Ni⊙ = 10-1+2) is required in the bright central region and the previous detection of Cr and Mn line emission is confirmed. Spectra are described well by two thermal components in collisional ionization equilibrium. We observe spatial variations in the temperature, with the highest temperature found in the east and the lowest in the west. Conclusions. Our results support a scenario in which the X-ray emission comes from ejecta interacting with a dense belt of ambient material, but another possibility is that the remnant is the result of an asymmetric bipolar explosion with the eastern jet being hotter and more Fe-rich than the western jet. The eastern jet is confined by interaction with ambient molecular clouds. Comparison of the observed abundances with yields for hypernova and supernova nucleosynthesis does not directly support the association of W49B with a γ-ray burst, although it remains possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-578
Number of pages12
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: individual object: W49B
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • X-rays: ISM


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