Journal Article

Multiwavelength diagnostic properties of Galactic planetary nebulae detected by the GLIMPSE-I

Martin Cohen, Quentin A. Parker, Anne J. Green, Brent Miszalski, David Frew and Tara Murphy

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 413, issue 1, pages 514-542
Published in print May 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Multiwavelength diagnostic properties of Galactic planetary nebulae detected by the GLIMPSE-I

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We uniformly analyse 136 optically detected planetary nebulae (PNe) and candidates from the GLIMPSE-I in order to develop robust, multiwavelength, classification criteria to augment existing diagnostics and provide pure PN samples. PNe represent powerful astrophysical probes. They are important dynamical tracers, key sources of interstellar medium chemical enrichment, windows into late stellar evolution and potent cosmological yardsticks. However, their utility depends on separating them unequivocally from the many nebular mimics which can strongly resemble bona fide PNe in traditional optical images and spectra. We merge new PNe from the carefully evaluated, homogeneous Macquarie-AAO-Strasbourg Hα PN Project (MASH-I) and MASH-II surveys, which offer a wider evolutionary range of PNe than hitherto available, with previously known PNe classified by SIMBAD. Mid-infrared (MIR) measurements vitally complement optical data because they reveal other physical processes and morphologies via fine-structure lines, molecular bands and dust. MIR colour–colour planes, optical emission-line ratios and radio fluxes show the unambiguous classification of PNe to be complex, requiring all available evidence. Statistical trends provide predictive value and we offer quantitative MIR criteria to determine whether an emission nebula is most likely to be a PN or one of the frequent contaminants such as compact H ii regions or symbiotic systems. Prerequisites have been optical images and spectra, but MIR morphology, colours, environment and a candidate’s MIR-to-radio flux ratio provide a more rigorous classification. Our ultimate goal is to recognize PNe using only MIR and radio characteristics, enabling us to trawl for PNe effectively even in heavily obscured regions of the Galaxy.

Keywords: H ii regions; photodissociation region (PDR); planetary nebulae: general; infrared: ISM; radio continuum: ISM

Journal Article.  21084 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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