Compton Observatory OSSE studies of supernovae and novae

M. D. Leising, D. D. Clayton, L. S. The, W. N. Johnson, J. D. Kurfess, R. L. Kinzer, R. A. Kroeger, M. S. Strickman, J. E. Grove, D. A. Grabelsky, W. R. Purcell, M. P. Ulmer, R. A. Cameron, G. V. Jung

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


A primary objective of the Compton Observatory is the direct study of explosive nucleosynthesis in supernovae and classical novae. We have been fortunate in that three rare events have coincided, relatively speaking, with the Compton Observatory launch. Supernova 1987A, roughly a once per century event, was only 4 years old at launch and so the-γ-ray flux from 57 Co decay was not much past its peak value. Supernova 1991T, a SN Ia which exploded within a few days of launch, is a once in a decade event. It offers as good a chance as we could reasonably expect to detect the 56 Ni and 56 Co decays which are supposed to be responsible for the impressive SN Ia display. Nova Cygni 1992, also a once in a decade event, might be our best chance to detect-γ-rays from 22 Na, a unique nucleosynthesis byproduct of the explosive hydrogen burning thought to power classical novae. The OSSE has detected 122 keV line and Compton scattered continuum photons from 57 Co decay in SN 1987A. The total flux of 9 × 10 -5 cm -2 s -1 corresponds to a 57 Ni/ 56 Ni production of 1.5 ± 0.5 relative to solar Fe, which is in conflict with previous interpretations of optical and infrared data. OSSE and COMPTEL upper limits on 56 Co-γ-ray lines from SN 1991T at 3-4 ×10 -5 cm -2 s -1 are not in conflict with published models of SNIa at distances ≥10 Mpc. However if those models are correct, the distance must be ≤10 Mpc to give the observed optical luminosity, and are then in conflict with the-γ-ray limits. The OSSE upper limit from N Cyg 1992 near 10 -4 cm -2 s -1 at 1.275 MeV corresponds to an ejected 22 Na mass of 8 × 10 -8 M ⊙ at a distance of 1.5 kpc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCompton Gamma-Ray Observatory
EditorsNeil Gehrels, Michael W. Friedlander, Daryl J. Macomb
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics Inc.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)1563961040
StatePublished - 1993
EventCompton Symposium - St. Louis, United States
Duration: Oct 15 1992Oct 17 1992

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


ConferenceCompton Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySt. Louis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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