An Astronomical Time Machine: Light Echoes from Historic Supernovae and Eruptions
|Date||3 June 2020|
Tycho Brahe's observations of a supernova (SN) in 1572 challenged the teachings of Aristotle that the celestial realm was unchanging. We have discovered a way to see the same light that Tycho saw 440 years ago by observing SN light that only now reaches Earth after scattering off dust filaments. These light echoes, as well as ones detected from other historical events such as Cas A and Eta Carinae's Great Eruption, give us a unique opportunity in astronomy: direct observation of the cause (the explosion) as well as the effect (the expanded remnant) of the same astronomical event. Furthermore, multiple light echoes allow us to see the same explosion from different directions, providing the only way to directly map asymmetry. I will discuss how the unprecedented three dimensional view of these historic events allows us to make connections between the underlying physics and observed cosmic explosions.