EDP Sciences
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Volume 482, Number 1, April IV 2008
Page(s) 215 - 227
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20079039
Published online 18 February 2008

A&A 482, 215-227 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20079039

M1-78: a nitrogen-rich Galactic compact H II region beyond the Perseus arm

N. L. Martín-Hernández1, C. Esteban1, A. Mesa-Delgado1, A. Bik2, and E. Puga3

1  Instituto de Astronomía de Canarias, vía Láctea s/n, 38205 La Laguna, Spain
    e-mail: leticia@iac.es
2  European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild Strasse 2, 85748 Garching-bei-München, Germany
3  Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium

(Received 9 November 2007 / Accepted 7 February 2008)

Context. There is considerable controversy surrounding the nature of M1-78, a compact nebula located beyond the Perseus arm. It was first classified as a planetary nebula and is nowadays generally considered to be a compact H II region.
Aims. To investigate the nature of M1-78 further, we present a detailed spectroscopic study of M1-78 in the optical and near-infrared.
Methods. We obtained long-slit, intermediate-resolution, optical spectroscopy with the ISIS spectrograph mounted on the William Herschel Telescope (WHT) at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (La Palma, Spain). As a complement, we obtained long-slit, intermediate-resolution, near-infrared spectra using LIRIS, the near-infrared imager/spectrographer also installed at the WHT.
Results. M1-78 is a high-density nebula with substantial physical differences between its two main morphological zones: a bright arc in the SW and a blob of emission in the NE. Specifically, the blob in the NE has a higher electron temperature (13 400 K) and visual extinction (about 9 mag) than the SW arc. The most important result, however, is the confirmation of a nitrogen enrichment in M1-78. This enrichment is stronger at the location of the NE blob and is correlated with a defficiency in the O abundance and a (dubious) He enrichment. Such an abundance pattern is typical of ejecta nebulae around evolved massive stars such as Wolf-Rayet and Luminous Blue Variable stars. The spatial variations in the physical conditions and chemical abundances and the presence of more than one possible ionizing source indicate, however, that M1-78 is better described as a combination of a compact H II region + ejecta. This is confirmed by the He I 2.112 $\mu$m/Br$\gamma$ line ratio, which indicates a hot ( $T_{\rm eff} \ga$ 40 000 K) O star in the SW arc. Finally, we detect H2 emission that extends over a large (~30´´) area around the ionized nebula. Analysis of the near-infrared H2 lines indicates that the excitation mechanism is UV fluorescence.

Key words: infrared: ISM -- ISM: individual objects: M1-78 -- ISM: HII regions -- ISM: abundances -- stars: early-type -- stars: Wolf-Rayet

© ESO 2008