Proper Motion of the High-velocity Pulsar in SNR MSH 15-56

Tea Temim, Patrick Slane, Paul P. Plucinsky, Joseph Gelfand, Daniel Castro, Christopher Kolb

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We present a measurement of the proper motion of the presumed pulsar in the evolved composite supernova remnant (SNR) MSH 15-56 whose pulsar wind nebula (PWN) has been disrupted by the supernova (SN) reverse shock. Using Chandra X-ray observations acquired over a baseline of 15 years, we measure a pulsar velocity of and a direction of motion of 14° ± 22° west of south. We use this measurement to constrain a hydrodynamical (HD) model for the evolution of this system, and find that its morphology is well-described by an SNR expanding in an ambient density gradient that increases from east to west. The effect of the density gradient and the pulsar's motion is an asymmetric interaction between the SN reverse shock and the PWN that displaces the bulk of the PWN material away from the pulsar toward the northeast. The simulation is consistent with an SNR age of 11,000 years, an SN ejecta mass of 10 M, and an average surrounding density of 0.4 cm-3, but a combination of a higher SN ejecta mass and ambient density can produce a similar SNR morphology at a later age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • hydrodynamics
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • proper motions
  • pulsars: general
  • X-rays: individual (MSH 15-56)


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