GHRS observations of mass-loaded flows in Abell 78

J. Patrick Harrington, Kazimierz J. Borkowski, Zlatan Tsvetanov

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Spectroscopic observations of the central star of the planetary nebula Abell 78 were obtained with the GHRS onboard the Hubble Space Telescope in the vicinity of the C IV λ1548.2, 1550.8 doublet. We find a series of narrow absorption features superposed on the broad, P Cygni stellar wind profile. These features are seen in both components of the doublet at heliocentric radial velocities of -18, -71, -131, and -192 km s-1. At higher velocities, individual components are no longer distinct but, rather, merge into a continuous absorption extending to ∼ -385 km s-1. This is among the highest velocities ever detected for gas in a planetary nebula. The -18 km s-1 feature originates in an outer envelope of normal composition, while the -71 km s-1 feature is produced in the wind-swept shell encircling an irregular wind-blown bubble in the planetary nebula center. The hydrogen-poor ejecta of Abell 78, consisting of dense knots with wind-blown tails, are located in the bubble's interior, in the vicinity of the stellar wind termination shock. The high-velocity C IV λ1549 absorption features can be explained as due to parcels of ejecta being accelerated to high velocities as they are swept up by the stellar wind during its interaction with dense condensations of H-poor ejecta. As the ablated material is accelerated, it will partially mix with the stellar wind, creating a mass-loaded flow. The abundance anomalies seen at the rim of the bubble attest to the transport of H-poor knot material by such a flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-268
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 1995



  • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
  • Planetary nebulae: individual (Abell 78)
  • Ultraviolet: ISM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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