The planetary nebula luminosity function and its issues

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The bright-end cutoff of the [O III] λ5007 planetary nebula luminosity function (PNLF) is insensitive to population age and metallicity, making it an excellent extragalactic standard candle. We review our knowledge of the function and discuss the challenges related to modeling it. We show that, while there has been a great deal of progress in understanding the nuances of its shape, there is still no solid theory which explains the luminosity of the PNLF cutoff in old stellar populations. This is an extremely serious problem, as it affects a myriad of astrophysical issues, from the determination of the stellar masses of galaxies to our understanding of alternative channels of stellar evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-19
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberA29B
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Space and Planetary Science


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