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Startlingly Fast Evolution of the Stingray Planetary Nebula and its Central Star, V839 Arae

Presentation #333.09 in the session “Stellar Evolution and Populations”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Startlingly Fast Evolution of the Stingray Planetary Nebula and its Central Star, V839 Arae

The planetary nebula (PN) called the Stingray (PN G331.3-12.1) suddenly turned on in the 1980s, and its central star (V839 Ara) started a fast evolution with large amplitudes in magnitude, surface temperature, and surface gravity, perhaps as part of a late thermal pulse causing a loop in the HR diagram. With these fast changes, we have taken images with the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016. We do not see the ejecta from the high-velocity mass loss (maybe like a stellar wind) that was a transient restricted to around the 1980s, either close in to the central star, or as clumps or changes in the nebula far from the star, or as localized or general increases in the emission-line flux caused by the shocks of the outflowing ejecta ramming into the slow-moving PN shell. We think that the lack of seeing the outgoing ejecta is because it had already suffused the PN before the first resolved imaging in 1992, and it was the shocks from this impact that initially ionized the Stingray starting in the 1980s. We also quantify the complex fast fading of the Stingray, with each emission line and each structure having different fade rates, with half-lives ranging from 3 to 29 years. In a century or two, the PN will fade to invisibility. With this complex fading of different structures, it is impossible to derive any expansion rate for the PN. The central star had its brightness roughly constant from 1996 to 2016, but with substantial erratic variability from 15.50 to 14.18 mag in the V band.


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