Planetary nebulae contain shells of cold gas and dust whose heating and chemistry is likely driven by UV and X-ray emission from their central stars and from wind-collision-generated shocks. We present the results of a survey of molecular line emissions in the 88 - 235 GHz range from nine nearby (<1.5 kpc) planetary nebulae using the 30 m telescope at the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique. Rotational transitions of nine molecules, including the well-studied CO isotopologues and chemically important trace species, were observed and the results compared with and augmented by previous studies of molecular gas in PNe. Lines of the molecules HCO+, HNC, HCN, and CN, which were detected in most objects, represent new detections for five planetary nebulae in our study. Flux ratios were analyzed to identify correlations between the central star and/or nebular ultraviolet/X-ray luminosities and the molecular chemistries of the nebulae. Analysis reveals the apparent dependence of the HNC/HCN line ratio on PN central star UV luminosity. There exists no such clear correlation between PN X-rays and various diagnostics of PN molecular chemistry. The correlation between HNC/HCN ratio and central star UV luminosity hints at the potential of molecular emission line studies of PNe for improving our understanding of the role that high-energy radiation plays in the heating and chemistry of photodissociation regions.
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)
Joel H. Kastner
Bublitz, Jesse, "A New Radio Spectral Line Survey of Planetary Nebulae: Exploring Radiatively Driven Heating and Chemistry of Molecular Gas" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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