Detection of diffuse X-ray emission from planetary nebulae with nebular O VI

N. Ruiz, Y. H. Chu, R. A. Gruendl, M. A. Guerrero, R. Jacob, D. Schönberner, M. Steffen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The presence of O VI ions can be indicative of plasma temperatures of a few ×105 K that are expected in heat conduction layers between the hot shocked stellar wind gas at several 106 K and the cooler (104 K) nebular gas of planetary nebulae (PNe). We have used FUSE observations of PNe to search for nebular O VI emission or absorption as a diagnostic of the conduction layer to ensure the presence of hot interior gas. Three PNe showing nebular O VI, namely IC 418, NGC 2392, and NGC 6826, have been selected for Chandra observations and diffuse X-ray emission is indeed detected in each of these PNe. Among the three, NGC 2392 has peculiarly high diffuse X-ray luminosity and plasma temperature compared with those expected from its stellar wind's mechanical luminosity and terminal velocity. The limited effects of heat conduction on the plasma temperature of a hot bubble at the low terminal velocity of the stellar wind of NGC 2392 may partially account for its high plasma temperature, but the high X-ray luminosity needs to be powered by processes other than the observed stellar wind, probably the presence of an unseen binary companion of the central star of the PN (CSPN) of NGC 2392. We have compiled relevant information on the X-ray, stellar, and nebular properties of PNe with a bubble morphology and found that the expectations of bubble models including heat conduction compare favorably with the present X-ray observations of hot bubbles around H-rich CSPNe, but have notable discrepancies for those around H-poor [WR] CSPNe. We note that PNe with more massive central stars can produce hotter plasma and higher X-ray surface brightness inside central hot bubbles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number35
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 2013


  • X-rays: ISM
  • planetary nebulae: general
  • planetary nebulae: individual (IC 418, NGC 2392, NGC 6826)
  • stars: winds, outflows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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