Light echoes from ancient supernovae in the Large Magellanic Cloud
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The light from historical supernovae could in principle still be visible as scattered-light echoes centuries after the explosion. The detection of light echoes could allow us to pinpoint the supernova event both in position and age and, most importantly, permit the acquisition of spectra to determine the 'type' of the supernova centuries after the direct light from the explosion first reached Earth. Although echoes have been discovered around some nearby extragalactic supernovae, targeted searches have not found any echoes in the regions of historical Galactic supernovae. Here we report three faint variable-surface-brightness complexes with high apparent proper motions pointing back to three of the six smallest (and probably youngest) previously catalogued supernova remnants in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which are believed to have been thermonuclear (type Ia) supernovae. Using the distance and apparent proper motions of these echo arcs, we estimate ages of 610 and 410 years for two of them.
author list (cited authors)
Rest, A., Suntzeff, N. B., Olsen, K., Prieto, J. L., Smith, R. C., Welch, D. L., ... Stubbs, C.