The Abundances of Light Neutron-Capture Elements in Planetary Nebulae. II. S-Process Enrichments and Interpretation

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Sterling, N. C.
Dinerstein, Harriet L.

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We present the results of a large-scale survey of neutron(n)-capture elements in Galactic planetary nebulae (PNe), undertaken to study enrichments from s-process nucleosynthesis in their progenitor stars. From new K-band observations of over 100 PNe supplemented by data from the literature, we have detected the emission lines [Kr III] 2.199 mu m and/or [Se IV] 2.287 mu m in 81 of 120 objects. We determine Se and Kr elemental abundances, employing ionization correction formulae derived in the first paper of this series. We find a significant range in Se and Kr abundances, from near solar (no enrichment) to enhanced by > 1.0 dex relative to solar, which we interpret as self-enrichment due to in situ s-process nucleosynthesis. Kr tends to be more strongly enriched than Se; in 18 objects exhibiting both Se and Kr emission, we find that [Kr/Se] = 0.5 +/- 0.2. Our survey has increased the number of PNe with n-capture element abundance determinations by a factor of 10, enabling us for the first time to search for correlations with other nebular properties. As expected, we find a positive correlation between s-process enrichments and the C/O ratio. Type I and bipolar PNe, which arise from intermediate-mass progenitors (> 3-4 M-circle dot), exhibit little to no s-process enrichments. Finally, PNe with H-deficient Wolf-Rayet central stars do not exhibit systematically larger s-process enrichments than objects with H-rich nuclei. Overall, 44% of the PNe in our sample display significant s-process enrichments (> 0.3 dex). Using an empirical PN luminosity function to correct for incompleteness, we estimate that the true fraction of s-process enriched Galactic PNe is at least 20%.



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Sterling, N. C., and Harriet L. Dinerstein. "The abundances of light neutron-capture elements in planetary nebulae. II. s-process enrichments and interpretation." The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Vol. 174, No. 1 (Jan., 2008): 158.