Special Articles

Planetary Nebulae: Understanding the Physical and Chemical Evolution of Dying Stars

Science  30 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5317, pp. 1382-1386
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5317.1382

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Abstract

Planetary nebulae are one of the few classes of celestial objects that are active in every part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These fluorescing and often dusty expanding gaseous envelopes were recently found to be quite complex in their dynamics and morphology, but refined theoretical models can account for these discoveries. Great progress was also made in understanding the mechanisms that shape the nebulae and the spectra of their central stars. In addition, applications for planetary nebulae have been worked out; for example, they have been used as standard candles for long-range distances and as tracers of the enigmatic dark matter.

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