Protoplanetary nebula

Protoplanetary nebula

A protoplanetary nebula or preplanetary nebula Harv|Sahai|Sánchez Contreras|Morris|2005 (PPN) is an astronomical object which is at the short-lived episode during a star's rapid stellar evolution between the late asymptotic giant branch (LAGB)Ref_label|A|a|none phase and the subsequent planetary nebula (PN) phase. A PPN emits strong in infrared radiation, and is a kind of reflection nebula. It is the penultimate high-luminosity evolution phase in the life cycle of intermediate-mass stars (1-8 M). Harv|Kastner|2005


The name protoplanetary nebula is an unfortunate choice due to the possibility of confusion with the same term being sometimes employed when discussing the unrelated concept of protoplanetary disks. The name protoplanetary nebula is a consequence of the older term planetary nebula, which was chosen due to early astronomers looking through telescopes and finding a similarity in appearance of planetary nebula to the gas giants such as Neptune and Uranus. To avoid any possible confusion, Harvnb|Sahai|Sánchez Contreras|Morris|2005 suggests employing a new term preplanetary nebula which does not overlap with any other disciplines of astronomy. They are often referred to as post-AGB stars, although that category also includes stars that will never ionize their ejected matter.



During the LAGB phase, when mass loss reduces the hydrogen envelope's mass to around 10-2 "M" for a core mass of 0.60 "M", a star will begin to evolve towards the blue side of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. When the hydrogen envelope has been further reduced to around 10-3 "M", the envelope will have been so disrupted that it is believed further significant mass loss is not possible. At this point, the effective temperature of the star, "T"*, will be around 5,000 K and it is defined to be the end of the LAGB and the beginning of the PPN. Harv|Davis|Smith|Gledhill|Varricatt|2005

Protoplanetary nebula phase

During the ensuing protoplanetary nebula phase, the central star's (CS) effective temperature will continue rising as a result of the envelope's mass loss as a consequence of the hydrogen shell's burning. During this phase, the CS is still too cool to ionize the slow-moving circumstellar shell ejected during the preceding AGB phase. However, the CS does appear to drive high-velocity, collimated winds which shape and shock this shell, and almost certainly entrain slow-moving AGB ejecta to produce a fast molecular wind. Observations and high-resolution imaging studies from 1998 to 2001, demonstrate that the rapidly evolving PPN phase ultimately shapes the morphology of the subsequent PN. At a point during or soon after the AGB envelope detachment, the envelope shape changes from roughly spherically symmetric to axially symmetric. The resultant morphologies are bipolar, knotty jets and Herbig-Haro-like “bow shocks”. These shapes appear even in relatively “young” PPN. Harv|Davis|Smith|Gledhill|Varricatt|2005


The PPN phase continues until the central star reaches around 30,000 K and it is hot enough (producing enough ultraviolet radiation) to ionize the circumstellar nebula (ejected gases) and it becomes a kind of emission nebula called a PN. This transition must take place in less than around 10,000 years or else the density of the circumstellar envelope will fall below the PN formulation density threshold of around 100 per cm³ and no PN will result, such a case is sometimes referred to as a 'lazy planetary nebula'. Harv|Volk|Kwok|1989

Recent conjectures

In 2001, Bujarrabal et al. found that the “interacting stellar winds” model of Kwoket al. (1978) of radiatively-driven winds is insufficient to account for their CO observations of PPN fast winds which imply high momentum and energy inconsistent with that model. This has prompted theorists (Soker & Rappaport 2000; Frank & Blackmann 2004) to investigate whether an accretion disk scenario, similar to the model used to explain jets from active galactic nuclei and young stars, could account for both the point symmetry and the high degree of collimation seen in many PPN jets. In such a model, the accretion disk forms through binary interactions. Magneto-centrifugal launching from the disk surface is then a way to convert gravitational energy into the kinetic energy of a fast wind. If this model is correct and magneto-hydrodynamics (MHD) do determine the energetics and collimation of PPN outflows, then they will also determine physics of the shocks in these flows, and this can be confirmed with high-resolution pictures of the emission regions that go with the shocks. Harv|Davis|Smith|Gledhill|Varricatt|2005


  1. Note_label|A|a|noneThe late asymptotic giant branch begins at the point on the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) where a star is no longer observable in visible light and becomes an infrared object. Harv|Volk|Kwok|1989


* citation
last1 = Davis
first1 = C. J.
last2 = Smith
first2 = M. D.
last3 = Gledhill
first3 = T. M.
last4 = Varricatt
first4 = W. P.
title = Near-infrared echelle spectroscopy of protoplanetary nebulae: probing the fast wind in H2
journal = Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
year = 2005
volume = 360
issue = 1
pages = 104-118
url =
* citation
last1 = Kastner
first1 = J. H.
title = Near-death Transformation: Mass Ejection in Planetary Nebulae and Protoplanetary Nebulae
journal = American Astronomical Society Meeting 206, #28.04; Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society
year = 2005
volume = 37
pages = 469
url =
* citation
last1 = Sahai
first1 = Raghvendra
last2 = Sánchez Contreras
first2 = Carmen
last3 = Morris
first3 = Mark
title = A Starfish Preplanetary Nebula: IRAS 19024+0044
journal = The Astrophysical Journal
year = 2005
volume = 620
issue = 2
pages = 948-960
url =
* citation
last1 = Volk
first1 = Kevin M.
last2 = Kwok
first2 = Sun
author2-link = Sun Kwok
title = Evolution of protoplanetary nebulae
journal = Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X)
year = 1989
date = July 1 1989
volume = 342
pages = 345-363
url =
. [ The Torún Catalog of galactic post-AGB objects]

ee also

* Bipolar nebula
* Bipolar outflow
* List of protoplanetary nebulae
* Planetary nebula

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • protoplanetary nebula — noun A stage in stellar evolution when a star starts to shed its outer layers before coming a true planetary nebula. Syn: preplanetary nebula …   Wiktionary

  • Protoplanetary disk — A protoplanetary disk (or proplyd) is a rotating circumstellar disk of dense gas surrounding a young newly formed star, a T Tauri star or Herbig star. The protoplanetary disk may be considered an accretion disk because gaseous material may be… …   Wikipedia

  • Nebula — Nebulae redirects here. For the supercomputer in China, see Nebulae (computer). For other uses, see Nebula (disambiguation). The Pillars of Creation from the Eagle Nebula …   Wikipedia

  • Nebula class starship — Nebula class The USS Sutherland (NCC 72015) in 2368. First appearance The Wounded Affiliation United Federation of Planets Starfleet …   Wikipedia

  • Frosty Leo Nebula — Protoplanetary nebula caption= 2003 Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys HRC name = Frosty Leo Nebula epoch = J2000 ra = RA|09|39|53.96Harv|SIMBAD|2007] dec = DEC|+11|58|52.4 dist ly = 3.0 kly (920 pc)Harv|Davis|Smith|Gledhill|Varricatt|2005]… …   Wikipedia

  • Boomerang Nebula — Protoplanetary nebula caption=The Boomerang Nebula. Credit: NASA/ESA name = Boomerang Nebula epoch = J2000 ra = RA|12|44|45.45Harvard reference | Surname1 = SIMBAD | Title = Results for Boomerang Nebula | Authorlink = SIMBAD | Journal = | Year =… …   Wikipedia

  • Calabash Nebula — Protoplanetary nebula caption= Calabash Nebula name = Calabash Nebula epoch = J2000 ra = RA|07|42|16.83Harv|SIMBAD|2007] dec = DEC| 14|42|52.1 dist ly = 4.2 kly (1.3 kpc)Harv|Kastner|Weintraub|Merrill|Gatley|1998] appmag v = 9.47 size v = 1… …   Wikipedia

  • Red Rectangle Nebula — Protoplanetary nebula caption = name = Red Rectangle Nebula epoch = J2000 ra = RA|06|19|58.2160Harv|SIMBAD|2007] dec = DEC| 10|38|14.691 dist ly = 2.3 ± 0.3 kly (710 ± 100 pc)Harv|Men shchikov|Schertl|Tuthill|Weigelt|2002] appmag v = 9.02 size v …   Wikipedia

  • Egg Nebula — Protoplanetary nebula caption=RAFGL 2688, the Egg Nebula name = Egg Nebula type = epoch = J2000 ra = RA|21|02|18.75cite web title=SIMBAD Astronomical Database work=Results for Egg Nebula url=http://simbad.u accessdate=2007 01… …   Wikipedia

  • Cotton Candy Nebula — The Cotton Candy Nebula as seen by Hubble. Credits: Sun Kwok and Kate Su (University of Calgary), Bruce Hrivnak (Valparaiso University), and NASA The Cotton Candy Nebula is a protoplanetary nebula that was originally discovered by the IRAS… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.