NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0224

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0224


PI: Bruce Hrivnak, Valparaiso University, Bruce.Hrivnak@valpo.edu
Address: Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1610 Campus Drive East, Valparaiso, IN 46383, USA

CoI: Ken Hinkle, NOAO
CoI: Florian Kerber, ESO

Title: Testing the Binary Hypothesis for Bipolar Proto-Planetery Nebulae

Abstract: We propose to test the popular but observationally unsupported hypothesis that the bipolar shapes of planetary nebulae (PNe) arise from the interaction of a binary companion. The observing targets are three edge-on proto-PNe (PPNe) in which the central star is obscured in visible light by an optically-thick torus but in which the central star can be seen in the near-infrared. We would obtain high-precision radial velocity observations of the central stars to search for radial velocity variations. This radial velocity study will provide a stringent test of the popular binary hypothesis as the mechanism to produce this torus that then collimates the outflow to produce the bipolar nebulae. A positive result would support the binary hypothesis and open the way to determine the exact shaping mechanism. A null result would rule out the presence of a close binary and also specifically the idea of post-AGB binaries (~30% of all AGB stars) as predecessors of bipolar PPNe and the close binary central stars of PNe as their progeny.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0224

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