Planetary nebulae abundances and stellar evolution II

Pottasch, S. R. and Bernard-Salas, J. (2010). Planetary nebulae abundances and stellar evolution II. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 517, article no. A95.



Context. In recent years mid- and far infrared spectra of planetary nebulae have been analysed and lead to more accurate abundances. It may be expected that these better abundances lead to a better understanding of the evolution of these objects.

Aims. The observed abundances in planetary nebulae are compared to those predicted by the models of Karakas (2003, Thesis,Monash Univ. Melbourne) in order to predict the progenitor masses of the various PNe used. The morphology of the PNe is included in the comparison. Since the central stars play an important role in the evolution, it is expected that this comparison will yield additional information about them.

Methods. First the nitrogen/oxygen ratio is discussed with relation to the helium/hydrogen ratio. The progenitor mass for each PNe can be found by a comparison with the models of Karakas. Then the present luminosity of the central stars is determined in two ways: first by computing the central star effective temperature and radius, and second by computing the nebular luminosity from the hydrogen and helium lines. This luminosity is also a function of the initial mass so that these two values of initial mass can be compared.

Results. Six of the seven bipolar nebulae can be identified as descendants of high mass stars (4−6 M) while the seventh is ambiguous. Most of the elliptical PNe have central stars which descend from low initial mass stars, although there are a few caveats which are discussed. There is no observational evidence for a higher mass for central stars which have a high carbon/oxygen ratio. The evidence provided by the abundance comparison with the models of Karakas is consistent with the HR diagram to which it is compared. In the course of this discussion it is shown how “optically thin” nebulae can be separated from those which are “optically thick”.

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