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  • Cited by 44
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: August 2009

Abundance Determinations In HII Regions And Planetary Nebulae


The methods of abundance determinations in H ii regions and planetary nebulae are described, with emphasis on the underlying assumptions and inherent problems. Recent results on abundances in Galactic H ii regions and in Galactic and extragalactic Planetary Nebulae are reviewed.


H ii regions are ionized clouds of gas associated with zones of recent star formation. They are powered by one, a few, or a cluster of massive stars (depending on the resolution at which one is working). The effective temperatures T* of the ionizing stars lie in the range 35 000 – 50 000 K. The nebular geometries result from the structure of the parent molecular cloud. Stellar winds, at evolved stages, may produce ring-like structures, but the morphology of H ii regions is generally rather complex on all scales. Typical hydrogen densities n are 103 – 104 cm–3 for compact H ii regions. The average densities in giant extragalactic H ii regions are lower, typically 102 cm–3 since giant H ii regions encompass also zones of diffuse material. The total supply of nebular gas is generally large, so that all (or at least a significant fraction) of the ionizing photons are absorbed.

Planetary nebulae (PNe) are evolutionary products of so-called intermediate mass stars (initial masses of 1 – 8 M⊙) as they progress from the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) to the white dwarf stage.