Heidelberg Joint Astronomical Colloquium

Speaker Oliver Krause
Title Light-echo spectroscopy of historical supernovae

Young galactic supernova remnants are unique laboratories to study supernova physics. Due to their proximity they provide the most detailed view of the outcome of a supernova explosion. However, the exact types of their original explosions have been undetermined so far – hindering to fully relate the wealth of knowledge about their remnants to the diverse population of supernovae. Light echoes, reflections of the brilliant supernova outburst by interstellar dust particles, provide a new opportunity to re-analyze today the same supernova light witnessed on Earth centuries ago with the powerful scientific instrumentation of the 21st century. I will present spectroscopic observations of two famous Galactic supernovae: Tycho Brahe's SN 1572 and the supernova that created the remnant Cassiopeia A around the year 1680. Our observations have finally recovered the missing precise spectroscopic classifications of these supernovae and allow us to obtain a true three-dimensional view of their underlying explosions.