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Astron. Astrophys. 350, 101-119 (1999)

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Spectroscopic investigation of old planetaries

IV. Model atmosphere analysis

R. Napiwotzki *

Dr. Remeis-Sternwarte, Sternwartstrasse 7, D-96049 Bamberg, Germany

Received 12 March 1999 / Accepted 21 July 1999

Abstract

The results of a NLTE model atmosphere analysis of 27 hydrogen-rich central stars of old planetary nebulae (PN) are reported. These stars were selected from a previous paper in this series, where we gave classifications for a total of 38 central stars. Most of the analyzed central stars fill a previously reported gap in the hydrogen-rich evolutionary sequence. Our observations imply the existence of two separated spectral evolutionary sequences for hydrogen-rich and -poor central stars/white dwarfs. This is in line with theoretical evolutionary calculations, which predict that most post-AGB stars reach the white dwarf domain with a thick hydrogen envelope of [FORMULA].

We determine stellar masses from the comparison with evolutionary tracks and derive a mass distribution for the hydrogen-rich central stars of old PNe. The peak mass and the general shape of the distribution is in agreement with recent determinations of the white dwarf mass distribution.

The properties of most analyzed stars are well explained by standard post-AGB evolution. However, for eight stars of the sample other scenarios have to be invoked. The properties of three of them are probably best explained by born again post-AGB evolution. Two of these are hybrid CSPN (hydrogen-rich PG 1159 stars), but surprisingly the third star doesn't show any signs of chemical enrichment in its atmosphere. The parameters of five stars are not in accordance with post-AGB evolution. We discuss alternative scenarios such as the stripping of the hydrogen-rich envelope by a companion during the first red giant phase or the formation of a common envelope with a possible merging of both components. Two stars (HDW 4 and HaWe 5) remain mysterious after all. They resemble ordinary hot DA white dwarfs, but due to very large evolutionary ages the presence of a PN cannot be explained. We speculate that the nebulae may be shells produced by ancient nova outbursts.

A wide spread of helium abundances is observed in the photospheres of central stars of old PNe. It is shown that a good correlation between helium abundances and luminosity is present. It is inferred that when the stars' luminosities fall below [FORMULA] depletion starts and the helium abundance steadily decreases with decreasing luminosity. The existence of this correlation is in qualitative agreement with recent theoretical calculations of gravitational settling in the presence of a stellar wind.

Key words: stars: abundances – stars: fundamental parameters – stars: white dwarfs – ISM: planetary nebulae: general

* Visiting astronomer, German-Spanish Astronomical Center, Calar Alto, Spain, operated by the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, jointly with the Spanish National Commission for Astronomy

Send offprint requests to: Ralf Napiwotzki (napiwotzki@sternwarte.uni-erlangen.de)

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: September 24, 1999
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