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Preprint G/04

Observations and 3D photoionisation modelling of the Wolf-Rayet planetary nebula NGC 1501

Ercolano B. (1), Wesson R. (1), Zhang Y. (2), Barlow M.J. (1), De Marco O. (3), Rauch T. (4,5), Liu X.-W. (2)

(1) University College, London, UK
(2) Peking University, China
(3) American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA
(4) Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Tübingen, Germany
(5) Dr.-Remeis-Sternwarte, Bamberg, Germany

To be published in: MNRAS

Abstract. Deep optical spectra of the high excitation planetary nebula NGC 1501 and its W04 central star are presented. A recombination line abundance analysis of the central star's emission-line spectrum yields He:C:O mass fractions of 0.36:0.48:0.16, similar to those of PG1159 stars. A detailed empirical analysis of the nebular collisionally excited line (CEL) and optical recombination line (ORL) spectrum is presented, together with fully three-dimensional photoionisation modelling of the nebula. We found very large ORL-CEL abundance discrepancy factors (ADFs) for O2+ (32) and Ne2+ (33). The mean value of ~5100K for the Te derived from HeI recombination lines ratios is 6000K lower than the value of 11100K implied by the [OIII] line ratio. A three-dimensional photoionisation model of NGC 1501 was constructed using the photoionisation code MOCASSIN, based on our new spectroscopic data and using the three-dimensional electron density distribution determined from long-slit echellograms of the nebula by Ragazzoni et al.. (2001). The initial models showed higher degrees of ionisation of heavy elements than indicated by observations. We investigated the importance of the missing low-temperature dielectronic recombination rates for third-row elements and have estimated upper limits to their rate coefficients. Our model heavily under-predicts the optical recombination line emission. We conclude that the presence of a hydrogen-deficient, metal-rich component is necessary to explain the observed ORL spectrum of this object. The existence of such knots could also provide a softening of the radiation field, via the removal of ionising photons by absorption in the knots, thereby helping to alleviate the over-ionisation of the heavy elements in our models.


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