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Post Info TOPIC: Fullerene Planetary Nebulae


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Fullerene Planetary Nebulae

Title: An Infrared Study of Fullerene Planetary Nebulae
Authors: D. A. Garcia-Hernandez, E. Villaver, P. Garcia-Lario, J. A. Acosta-Pulido, A. Manchado, L. Stanghellini, R. A. Shaw, F. Cataldo

We present a study of 16 PNe where fullerenes have been detected in their Spitzer spectra. This large sample of objects offers an unique opportunity to test conditions of fullerene formation and survival under different metallicity environments as we are analysing five sources in our own Galaxy, four in the LMC, and seven in the SMC. Among the 16 PNe under study, we present the first detection of C60 (possibly also C70) fullerenes in the PN M 1-60 as well as of the unusual 6.6, 9.8, and 20 um features (possible planar C24) in the PN K 3-54. Although selection effects in the original samples of PNe observed with Spitzer may play a potentially significant role in the statistics, we find that the detection rate of fullerenes in C-rich PNe increases with decreasing metallicity (5% in the Galaxy, 20% in the LMC, and 44% in the SMC). CLOUDY photoionisation modelling matches the observed IR fluxes with central stars that display a rather narrow range in effective temperature (30,000-45,000 K), suggesting a common evolutionary status of the objects and similar fullerene formation conditions. The observed C60 intensity ratios in the Galactic sources confirm our previous finding in the MCs that the fullerene emission is not excited by the UV radiation from the central star. CLOUDY models also show that line- and wind-blanketed model atmospheres can explain many of the observed [NeIII]/[NeII] ratios by photoionisation suggesting that possibly the UV radiation from the central star, and not shocks, are triggering the decomposition of the circumstellar dust grains. With the data at hand, we suggest that the most likely explanation for the formation of fullerenes and graphene precursors in PNe is that these molecular species are built from the photo-chemical processing of a carbonaceous compound with a mixture of aromatic and aliphatic structures similar to that of HAC dust.

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