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ING Newsletter No. 6, October 2002

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Haloes of Planetary Nebulae from the INT WFC

The images of the three planetary nebulae displayed on the following page were obtained by Romano Corradi at the INT with the Wide Field Camera, that covers a field of view of 34×34 arcmin. They are very deep exposures (one to three hours exposure time) obtained through an Hα+[NII] narrow-band filter, and were aimed at studying the faint haloes that are known to surround a large fraction of planetary nebulae. We believe that these haloes are the trace of the last episodes of mass loss from the stellar progenitors of the nebulae, occurred a few 104 years ago when they were in the pulsating red-giant phase that eventually leads to the complete ejection of the stellar envelope and the formation of a planetary nebula. In the case of two of the nebulae (Sh 2–200 and NGC 3242) displayed in the figure, however, the extended and structured emission revealed by the WFC images might not be material lost by the stars in the recent past, but simply interstellar gas located in the proximity of the planetary nebulae and ionized by the energetic radiation from their central stars.

Planetary Nebula Sh 2-200
Planetary Nebula Sh 2 – 200 [ JPEG | TIFF ]

Helix Planetary Nebula NGC 7293
Helix Planetary Nebula NGC 7293 [ JPEG | TIFF ]

Planetary Nebula NGC 3242
Planetary Nebula NGC 3242  [ JPEG | TIFF ]

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Last modified: 13 December 2010