A Massive Shell of Supernova-formed Dust in SNR G54.1+0.3

Tea Temim, Eli Dwek, Richard G. Arendt, Kazimierz J. Borkowski, Stephen P. Reynolds, Patrick Slane, Joseph D. Gelfand, John C. Raymond

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49 Scopus citations


While theoretical models of dust condensation predict that most refractory elements produced in core-collapse supernovae (SNe) efficiently condense into dust, a large quantity of dust has so far only been observed in SN 1987A. We present an analysis of observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope, Herschel Space Observatory, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, and AKARI of the infrared shell surrounding the pulsar wind nebula in the supernova remnant G54.1+0.3. We attribute a distinctive spectral feature at 21 μm to a magnesium silicate grain species that has been invoked in modeling the ejecta-condensed dust in Cas A, which exhibits the same spectral signature. If this species is responsible for producing the observed spectral feature and accounts for a significant fraction of the observed infrared continuum, we find that it would be the dominant constituent of the dust in G54.1+0.3, with possible secondary contributions from other compositions, such as carbon, silicate, or alumina grains. The total mass of SN-formed dust required by this model is at least 0.3 M o. We discuss how these results may be affected by varying dust grain properties and self-consistent grain heating models. The spatial distribution of the dust mass and temperature in G54.1+0.3 confirms the scenario in which the SN-formed dust has not yet been processed by the SN reverse shock and is being heated by stars belonging to a cluster in which the SN progenitor exploded. The dust mass and composition suggest a progenitor mass of 16-27 M o and imply a high dust condensation efficiency, similar to that found for Cas A and SN 1987A. The study provides another example of significant dust formation in a Type IIP SN explosion and sheds light on the properties of pristine SN-condensed dust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number129
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • dust, extinction
  • ISM: general
  • ISM: individual objects (SNR G54.1+0.3)
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • pulsars: individual (PSR J1930+1852)


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