Volume 512, March-April 2010
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||23 March 2010|
Age distribution of the central stars of galactic disk planetary nebulae
Astronomy Department, IAG/USP, University of São Paulo, Rua do Matão 1226,
05508-900 São Paulo SP, Brazil e-mail: [maciel;roberto;thais]@astro.iag.usp.br
Accepted: 16 December 2009
Context. Determination of the ages of central stars of planetary nebulae (CSPN) is a complex problem, and there is presently no single method that can be generally applied. We have developed several methods of estimating the ages of CSPN, based on both the observed nebular properties and some properties of the stars themselves.
Aims. Our aim is to estimate the ages and the age distribution of CSPN and to compare the derived results with mass and age determinations of CSPN and white dwarfs based on empirical determinations of these quantities.
Methods. We considered a sample of planetary nebulae in the galactic disk, most of which (~69%) are located in the solar neighbourhood, within 3 kpc from the Sun. We discuss several methods of deriving the age distribution of CSPN, namely; (i) the use of an age-metallicity relation that also depends on the galactocentric distance; (ii) the use of an age-metallicity relation obtained for the galactic disk; and (iii) the determination of ages from the central star masses obtained from the observed nitrogen abundances.
Results. We estimated the age distribution of CSPN with average uncertainties of 1–2 Gyr, and compared our results with the expected distribution based both on the observed mass distribution of white dwarfs and on the age distribution derived from available mass distributions of CSPN. Based on our derived age distributions, we conclude that most CSPN in the galactic disk have ages under 6 Gyr, and that the age distribution is peaked around 2–4 Gyr.
Key words: planetary nebulae: general / stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: fundamental parameters
© ESO, 2010
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