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Magellanic Cloud Planetary Nebulae

Planetary nebulae (PNs) are the gaseous relics of the outermost red giant layers, ejected as a superwind after the Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) phase. They carry a wealth of information on the evolution of their progenitor stars, and they retain information on the galaxian environment at the time of the formation of their progenitors. In short, they are the ideal probes of stellar evolution and formation of those stars that undergo the AGB phase.

The importance of studying Magellanic Cloud Planetary Nebulae (MCPN) is twofold: it allows the determination of physical parameters of PNs and their central stars, since their distances are known (as opposed to Galactic PN distances, that suffer large uncertainties); and they are the ideal probes of stellar evolution in low-metallicity galaxies. Small Magellanic Cloud PNs are probably the only direct way to study evolved stellar populations in a very low metallicity environment.

Our project is based on Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging with STIS and WFPC2, and optical and ultraviolet slitless spectroscopy. Only with HST can Magellanic Cloud PNs be resolved in their sizes and shapes, and their central stars can be detected. Ground based spectroscopic studies have been used to determine the plasma abundance of the nebulae.

Web site contents

  • Home: project highlights and current events
  • Observations: listing of our observations and access to calibrated FITS data
  • Images: collections of GIF images for easy viewing and comparison
  • Analysis: object coordinates, dimensions, fluxes, classifications, and notes
  • Papers: published journal articles, conference proceedings and posters
  • Links to related web sites: background/educational information, galactic planetary nebulae galleries

The MCPN project team

Letizia Stanghellini (STScI), Richard Shaw (NOAO), Max Mutchler (STScI), J. Chris Blades (STScI), Eva Villaver (STScI), Bruce Balick (Univ. of Washington), Stacy Palen (Univ. of Washington), Mike Dopita (MSSSO)