Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 April 2016
There has been a great deal of progress in our understanding of planetary nebulae and their central stars during the past decade and a half. Most of this has come about through progress in observational techniques covering almost the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Theories of planetary nebula evolution have been put to better and better tests as more and more discriminating data have become available.
This review describes some of the progress made in observations and their interpretation, particularly in the context of the evolution of the nebulae and the central stars. It includes a discussion on the improved determinations of magnitudes and temperatures of the central stars, and of progress in the measurement of distances, and a reassessment of the observed mass-distribution of the central stars. The last topic has been at the centre of a lively debate for almost a decade now and has been responsible for a large number of studies of central star evolution, some this review briefly touchs upon.