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  1. ABSTRACT We probe the environmental properties of X-ray supernova remnants (SNRs) at various points along their evolutionary journey, especially the S-T phase, and their conformance with theoretically derived models of SNR evolution. The remnant size is used as a proxy for the age of the remnant. Our data set includes 34 Milky Way, 59 Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and 5 Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) SNRs. We select remnants that have been definitively typed as either core-collapse (CC) or Type Ia supernovae, with well-defined size estimates, and a thermal X-ray flux measured over the entire remnant. A catalog of SNR size and X-ray luminosity is presented and plotted, with ambient density and age estimates from the literature. Model remnants with a given density, in the Sedov-Taylor (S-T) phase, are overplotted on the diameter-versus-luminosity plot, allowing the evolutionary state and physical properties of SNRs to be compared to each other, and to theoretical models. We find that small, young remnants are predominantly Type Ia remnants or high luminosity CCs, suggesting that many CC SNRs are not detected until after they have emerged from the progenitor’s wind-blown bubble. An examination of the distribution of SNR diameters in the Milky Way and LMC revealsmore »that LMC SNRs must be evolving in an ambient medium which is 30 per cent as dense as that in the Milky Way. This is consistent with ambient density estimates for the Galaxy and LMC.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2023
  2. Context. The 26 Al short-lived radioactive nuclide is the source of the observed galactic diffuse γ -ray emission at 1.8 MeV. While different sources of 26 Al have been explored, such as asymptotic giant branch stars, massive stellar winds, and supernovae, the contribution of very massive stars has not been studied so far. Aims. We study the contribution of the stellar wind of very massive stars, here, stars with initial masses between 150 and 300 M ⊙ , to the enrichment in 26 Al of the galactic interstellar medium. Methods. We studied the production of 26 Al by studying rotating and non-rotating very massive stellar models with initial masses between 150 and 300 M ⊙ for metallicities Z  = 0.006, 0.014, and 0.020. We compared this result to a simple Milky Way model and took the metallicity and the star formation rate gradients into account. Results. We obtain that very massive stars in the Z  = 0.006 − 0.020 metallicity range might be very significant contributors to the 26 Al enrichment of the interstellar medium. Typically, the contribution of the winds of massive stars to the total quantity of 26 Al in the Galaxy increases by 150% when very massive stars are considered. Conclusions.more »Despite their rarity, very massive stars might be important contributors to 26 Al and might overall be very important actors for nucleosynthesis in the Galaxy.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  3. Using a code that employs a self-consistent method for computing the effects of photo-ionization on circumstellar gas dynamics, we model the formation of wind-driven nebulae around massive stars. We take into account changes in stellar properties and mass-loss over the star’s evolution. Our simulations show how various properties, such as the density and ionization fraction, change throughout the evolution of the star. The multi-dimensional simulations reveal the presence of strong ionization front instabilities in the main-sequence phase, similar to those seen in galactic ionization fronts. Hydrodynamic instabilities at the interfaces lead to the formation of filaments and clumps that are continually being stripped off and mixed with the low density interior. Even though the winds start out as completely radial, the spherical symmetry is quickly destroyed, and the shocked wind region is manifestly asymmetrical. The simulations demonstrate that it is important to include the effects of the photoionizing photons from the star, and simulations that do not include this may fail to reproduce the observed density profile and ionization structure of wind-blown bubbles around massive stars.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  4. Abstract SN 2014C was originally classified as a Type Ib supernova, but at phase ϕ = 127 days, post-explosion strong H α emission was observed. SN 2014C has since been observed in radio, infrared, optical and X-ray bands. Here we present new optical spectroscopic and photometric data spanning ϕ = 947–2494 days post-explosion. We address the evolution of the broadened H α emission line, as well as broad [O iii ] emission and other lines. We also conduct a parallel analysis of all publicly available multiwavelength data. From our spectra, we find a nearly constant H α FWHM velocity width of ∼2000 km s −1 that is significantly lower than that of other broadened atomic transitions (∼3000–7000 km s −1 ) present in our spectra ([O i ] λ 6300; [O iii ] λ λ 4959, 5007; He i λ 7065; [Ca ii ] λ λ 7291, 7324). The late radio data demand a fast forward shock (∼10,000 km s −1 at ϕ = 1700 days) in rarified matter that contrasts with the modest velocity of the H α . We propose that the infrared flux originates from a toroidal-like structure of hydrogen surrounding the progenitor system, while later emissionmore »at other wavelengths (radio, X-ray) likely originates predominantly from the reverse shock in the ejecta and the forward shock in the quasi-spherical progenitor He-wind. We propose that the H α emission arises in the boundary layer between the ejecta and torus. We also consider the possible roles of a pulsar and a binary companion.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  5. We perform empirical fits to the Chandra and XMM-Newton spectra of three ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) in the edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 891, monitoring the region over a 17-year time window. One of these sources was visible since the early 1990s with ROSAT and was observed multiple times with Chandra and XMM-Newton. Another was visible since 2011. We build upon prior analyses of these sources by analyzing all available data at all epochs. Where possible Chandra data is used, since its superior spatial resolution allows for more effective isolation of the emission from each individual source, thus providing a better determination of their spectral properties. We also identify a new transient ULX, CXOU J022230.1+421937, which faded from view over the course of a two month period from Nov 2016 to Jan 2017. Modeling of each source at every epoch was conducted using six different models ranging from thermal bremsstrahlung to accretion disk models. Unfortunately, but as is common with many ULXs, no single model yielded a much better fit than the others. The two known sources had unabsorbed luminosities that remained fairly consistent over five or more years. Various possibilities for the new transient ULX are explored.
  6. Over the past two decades, I have been actively involved in teaching astronomy and astrophysics to Chicago Public School (CPS) students and their teachers, in collaboration with various groups as well as by myself. Valuable resources that we have created for schools include the Multiwavelength Astronomy Website, with modules for infrared, optical, ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy. The content of each lesson is derived from interviews with scientists, archived oral histories, and/or memoirs. Lessons are evaluated by a science educator and at least one subject matter expert before being produced for the web. They are supplemented by NASA media, archival material from the University of Chicago Library and other archives, and participant contributed photographs, light curves, and spectra. Summer programs provided training to CPS teachers to use the resources in their classrooms. Currently, I lead the Chicago Area Research Mentoring (CHARM) initiative. In the past academic year I worked with a class of 17 diverse 11th grade honors students at the University of Chicago Charter School, Woodlawn. Through frequent lectures (∼ every 4 weeks), these students were exposed to astrophysical topics and concepts not normally covered in a school curriculum. CHARM aims to develop the student's critical thinking, introduce themmore »to astrophysical research methods and techniques, and prepare them for a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), particularly a research-oriented one. In this article, I highlight some projects, educational resources, results achieved, and lessons learned along the way.« less
  7. Abstract The centroid energy of the Fe K α line has been used to identify the progenitors of supernova remnants (SNRs). These investigations generally considered the energy of the centroid derived from the spectrum of the entire remnant. Here we use XMM-Newton data to investigate the Fe K α centroid in 6 SNRs: 3C 397, N132D, W49B, DEM L71, 1E 0102.2-7219, and Kes 73. In Kes 73 and 1E 0102.2-7219, we fail to detect any Fe K α emission. We report a tentative first detection of Fe K α emission in SNR DEM L71 with a centroid energy consistent with its Type Ia designation. In the remaining remnants, the spatial and spectral sensitivity is sufficient to investigate spatial variations of the Fe K α centroid. We find in N132D and W49B that the centroids in different regions are consistent with those derived from the overall spectrum, although not necessarily with the remnant type identified via other means. However, in SNR 3C 397, we find statistically significant variation in the centroid of up to 100 eV, aligning with the variation in the density structure around the remnant. These variations span the intermediate space between centroid energies signifying core-collapse (CC) and Typemore »Ia remnants. Shifting the dividing line downwards by 50 eV can place all the centroids in the CC region, but contradicts the remnant type obtained via other means. Our results show that caution must be used when employing the Fe K α centroid of the entire remnant as the sole diagnostic for typing a remnant.« less