Recombination lines (RLs) of C II, N II, and O II in planetary nebulae (PNs) have been found to give abundances that are much larger in some cases than abundances from collisionally excited forbidden lines (CELs). The origins of this abundance discrepancy are highly debated. We present new spectroscopic observations of O II and C II recombination lines for six planetary nebulae. With these data we compare the abundances derived from the optical recombination lines with those determined from collisionally excited lines. Combining our new data with published results on RLs in other PNs, we examine the discrepancy in abundances derived from RLs and CELs. We find that there is a wide range in the measured abundance discrepancy ∆(O+2)=logO+2(RL)-logO+2(CEL), ranging from approximately 0.1 dex (within the 1 σ measurement errors) up to 1.4 dex. This tends to rule out errors in the recombination coefficients as a source of the discrepancy. Most RLs yield similar abundances, with the notable exception of O II multiplet V15, known to arise primarily from dielectronic recombination, which gives abundances averaging 0.6 dex higher than other O II RLs. We compare ∆(O+2) against a variety of physical properties of the PNs to look for clues as to the mechanism responsible for the abundance discrepancy. The strongest correlations are found with the nebula diameter and the Balmer surface brightness; high surface brightness, compact PNs show small values of ∆(O+2), while large low surface brightness PNs show the largest discrepancies. An inverse correlation of ∆(O+2) with nebular density is also seen. A marginal correlation of ∆(O+2) is found with expansion velocity. No correlations are seen with electron temperature, He+2/He+, central star effective temperature and luminosity, stellar mass-loss rate, or nebular morphology. Similar results are found for carbon in comparing C II RL abundances with ultraviolet measurements of C III].
The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series
- Pub Date:
- April 2005
- ISM: Abundances;
- ISM: Planetary Nebulae: General;
- 48 pages, 14 figures, accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement