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The Astrophysical Journal


We present Chandra ACIS X-ray observations of the Galactic supernova remnant Cassiopeia A taken in 2007 December. Combining these data with previous archival Chandra observations taken in 2000, 2002, and 2004, we estimate the remnant's forward shock velocity at various points around the outermost shell to range between 4200 and 5200 ± 500 km s–1. Using these results together with previous analyses of Cas A's X-ray emission, we present a model for the evolution of Cas A and find that it's expansion is well fit by a ρejr –(7–9) ejecta profile running into a circumstellar wind. We further find that while the position of the reverse shock in this model is consistent with that measured in the X-rays, in order to match the forward shock velocity and radius we had to assume that ~ 30% of the explosion energy has gone into accelerating cosmic rays at the forward shock. The new X-ray images also show that brightness variations can occur for some forward shock filaments like that seen for several nonthermal filaments seen projected in the interior of the remnant. Spectral fits to exterior forward shock filaments and interior nonthermal filaments show that they exhibit similar spectra. This together with similar flux variations suggests that interior nonthermal filaments might be simply forward shock filaments seen in projection and not located at the reverse shock as has been recently proposed.