NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server
A Study of Planetary Nebulae using the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA TelescopeA planetary nebula is formed following an intermediate-mass (1-8 solar M) star's evolution off of the main sequence; it undergoes a phase of mass loss whereby the stellar envelope is ejected and the core is converted into a white dwarf. Planetary nebulae often display complex morphologies such as waists or torii, rings, collimated jet-like outflows, and bipolar symmetry, but exactly how these features form is unclear. To study how the distribution of dust in the interstellar medium affects their morphology, we utilize the Faint Object InfraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) to obtain well-resolved images of four planetary nebulae--NGC 7027, NGC 6543, M2-9, and the Frosty Leo Nebula--at wavelengths where they radiate most of their energy. We retrieve mid infrared images at wavelengths ranging from 6.3 to 37.1 micron for each of our targets. IDL (Interactive Data Language) is used to perform basic analysis. We select M2-9 to investigate further; analyzing cross sections of the southern lobe reveals a slight limb brightening effect. Modeling the dust distribution within the lobes reveals that the thickness of the lobe walls is higher than anticipated, or rather than surrounding a vacuum surrounds a low density region of tenuous dust. Further analysis of this and other planetary nebulae is needed before drawing more specific conclusions.
Davis, Jessica (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
August 27, 2013
August 1, 2012
infrared sensorsStratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) telescopeplanetary nebulae
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