EDP Sciences
Free access
Issue
A&A
Volume 431, Number 3, March I 2005
Page(s) 963 - 978
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041669


A&A 431, 963-978 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20041669

The evolution of planetary nebulae

II. Circumstellar environment and expansion properties
D. Schönberner1, R. Jacob1, M. Steffen1, M. Perinotto2, R. L. M. Corradi3 and A. Acker4

1  Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
    e-mail: [deschoenberner;msteffen]@aip.de
2  Dipartimento di Astronomia e Scienza dello Spazio, Largo E. Fermi 2, 50125 Firenze, Italy
    e-mail: mariop@arcetri.astro.it
3  Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Ap. de Correos 321, 38700 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands, Spain
    e-mail: rcorradi@ing.iac.es
4  Observatoire Astronomique, 11 rue de l'Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
    e-mail: acker@astro.u-strasbg.fr

(Received 15 July 2004 / Accepted 15 October 2004 )

Abstract
We investigate and discuss the expansion properties of planetary nebulae by means of 1D radiation-hydrodynamics models computed for different initial envelope configurations and central star evolutionary tracks. In particular, we study how the expansion depends on the initial density gradient of the circumstellar envelope and show that it is possible to derive information on the very last mass-loss episodes during the star's final evolution along and off the asymptotic giant branch. To facilitate the comparison of the models with real objects, we have also computed observable quantities like surface brightness and emission-line profiles.

With the help of newly acquired high-resolution emission-line profiles for a sample of planetary nebulae we show that models with initial envelopes based on the assumption of a stationary wind outflow fail to explain the observed expansion speeds of virtually all of the observed planetary nebulae. Instead it must be assumed that during the very last phase of evolution along the final asymptotic giant branch evolution the mass-loss rate increases in strength, resulting in a much steeper slope of the circumstellar radial density distribution. Under these conditions, the expansion properties of the nebular gas differ considerably from the self-similar solutions found for isothermal conditions.

Furthermore, the mass loss must remain at a rather high level until the stellar remnant begins to evolve quickly towards the central star regime. Current theoretical computations of dust-driven mass-loss which are restricted to rather low temperatures cannot be applied during the star's departure from the asymptotic giant branch.


Key words: hydrodynamics -- radiative transfer -- ISM: planetary nebulae: general -- stars: AGB and post-AGB

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