The Planetary Nebula Luminosity Function: Pieces of the Puzzle

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Extragalactic surveys in the emission line of [O iii] λ 5007 have provided us with the absolute line strengths of large, homogeneous sets of planetary nebulae. These data have been used to address a host of problems, from the measurement of the extragalactic distance scale, to the study of stellar populations. I review our current understanding of the [O iii] planetary nebula luminosity function (PNLF), and discuss some of the physical processes that effect its structure. I also describe the features of the H PNLF, a function that, upon first glance, looks similar to the [O iii] PNLF, but which includes a very different set of objects. Finally, I discuss recent measurements of α, the number of PNe found in a stellar population, normalized to that population's bolometric luminosity. I show that, contrary to expectations, the values of found in actively star-forming spirals are essentially the same as those measured in late-type elliptical and lenticular systems. I discuss how this result sheds light on the physics of the planetary nebula phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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