Near-infrared observations of the proto-planetary nebula AFGL 618

William B. Latter, Philip R. Maloney, Douglas M. Kelly, John H. Black, G. H. Rieke, M. J. Rieke

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25 Scopus citations


We present near-infrared images and spectroscopy of the bipolar proto-planetary nebula AFGL 618. Emission from molecular hydrogen is detected in the 0.90-1.34 μm spectrum. From molecular hydrogen line ratios, we derive a visual extinction of AV = 3.4+4.0-2.0 mag to the H2-emtting region. Models of collisionally excited and fluorescent H2 emission are compared with the data: the near-infrared H2 spectrum is dominated by emission from collisionally excited molecules at Tex ≈ 2000 K, but a component of fluorescent emission is also present. The low level of fluorescent emission might indicate a clumpy structure, or one which partly shields the emitting region from the stellar continuum. We show that this type of near-infrared spectrum is an excellent tool for discriminating relatively low levels of fluorescent H2 emission from a strong collisionally excited component. Images in the H- and K-bandpasses have been analyzed using models which assume single scattering of photons from the central object. The models indicate that the bipolar axis is inclined to the plane of the sky by i ∼ 45°. An unresolved, compact source is seen in both images and is reproduced in the models. It is found that the emission in the H- and K-bands is consistent with single scattering of photons by dust with a distribution such that the dust density decreases with increasing stellar latitude and is nearly zero at the poles. A total visual attenuation at the stellar equator of AV ∼ 87 mag is required to reproduce the images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-356
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 1992


  • Infrared: interstellar: continuum
  • Infrared: interstellar: lines
  • Molecular processes
  • Planetary nebulae: individual (AFGL 618)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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