Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) images have revealed that the X-ray emitting regions of the molecule-rich young planetary nebulae (PNs) BD +30◦3639 and NGC 7027 are much more asymmetric than their optical nebulosities. To evaluate the potential origins of these X-ray asymmetries, we analyze X-ray images of BD +30◦3639, NGC 7027, and another planetary nebula resolved by CXO, NGC 6543, within specific energy bands. Image resolution has been optimized by sub-pixel repositioning of individual X-ray events. The resulting subarcsecond-resolution images reveal that the soft (E<0.7 keV) X-ray emission from BD +30◦3639 is more uniform than the harder emission, which is largely confined to the eastern rim of the optical nebula. In contrast, soft X-rays from NGC 7027 are highly localized and this PN is more axially symmetric in harder emission. The broad-band X-ray morphologies of BD +30◦3639 and NGC 7027 are highly anticorrelated with their distributions of visual extinction, as determined from high-resolution, space- and ground-based optical and infrared imaging. Hence, it is likely that the observed X-ray asymmetries of these nebulae are due in large part to the effects of nonuniform intranebular extinction. However, the energy-dependent X-ray structures in both nebulae and in NGC 6543 — which is by far the least dusty and molecule-rich of the three PNs, and displays very uniform intranebular extinction — suggests that other mechanisms, such as the action of collimated outflows and heat conduction, are also important in determining the detailed X-ray morphologies of young planetary nebulae (Refer to PDF file for exact formulas).

Publication Date



Also archived in: arXiv: astro-ph/0202139 v2 30 Aug 2002 The authors wish to thank two anonymous referees for many helpful comments and suggestions. J.H.K. and J.L. acknowledge support for this research provided by NASA/CXO grant GO0–1067X to RIT. N.S. acknowledges support from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation.ISSN:1535-4365 Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus