Spectropolarimetry and radiative transfer modeling of three proto-planetary nebulae

Benjamin Darwin Oppenheimer, John H. Bieging, Gary D. Schmidt, Karl D. Gordon, Karl A. Misselt, Paul S. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We measured the spectrum of polarization for three proto-planetary nebulae (PPNs), IRAS 17411-2411, IRAS 08005-2356, and IRAS 04296+3429, and made model calculations with the dust-scattering Monte Carlo code DIRTY and the dust emission code 2Dust. We show that high levels of polarization in these PPNs correlate with extreme asymptotic giant branch (AGB) superwind mass-loss rates in excess of 10-4 M⊙ yr-1. All three objects show evidence for evacuated lobes cleared by collimated fast winds, and two indicate a significant equatorial mass enhancement. Our best-fit models require sharply peaked grain size distributions, suggesting that most of the light is being scattered by grains of a characteristic size in IRAS 17441-2411 and IRAS 08005-2356. IRAS 17441-2411 and IRAS 08005-2356 have lobes with wide opening angles, perhaps produced by deflection of a polar jet from an accreting companion by the AGB superwind. Modeling the spectropolarimetry of IRAS 04296+3429 indicates a point-symmetric, multipolar morphology in the PPN phase. The modeling of spectropolarimetry and other observations of PPNs provides a powerful way to constrain circumstellar morphology and dust parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-972
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - May 10 2005


  • AGB
  • Dust, extinction
  • Stars: Agb and post
  • Techniques: Polarimetric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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