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Properties of hot massive stars from studies of their ring nebulae

  • Linda J. Smith (a1)

Abstract

Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars and their possible precursors, the Luminous Blue Variables (LBVs), are often surrounded by ring nebulae. It is believed that these nebulae are formed by the action of the stellar wind, matter being ejected from the star in the past, or a combination of these two processes. The various research applications of LBV and WR nebulae are reviewed with regard to the information they provide on the properties of the central stars. They are very useful probes of stellar evolution since the details of the previous evolutionary phases of the central stars are contained in the nebulae. In particular, abundance studies can provide insights into the chemical processes operating during the precursor phases. The nebulae can also be used as probes of the far-UV ionizing flux distribution of the central WR stars by comparing the observed levels of nebular ionization with those produced with non-LTE WR model flux distributions. Comparisons of stellar effective temperatures and luminosities derived using this technique with those determined by modelling stellar emission lines can identify deficiencies such as the lack of line-blanketing in WR model atmospheres. Very hot WR stars can also be identified by searching for nebular HeII emission. Studies of bipolar structures in LBV and WR nebulae provide valuable clues on wind asymmetries in the central stars.

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Properties of hot massive stars from studies of their ring nebulae

  • Linda J. Smith (a1)

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