We have combined recent Hubble Space Telescope/WFPC2 images in the [O III] 5007 Å and [N II] 6583 Å lines with similar images made 9.557 years earlier to determine the motion of the Ring Nebula within the plane of the sky. Scaled ratio images argue for homologous expansion, that is, larger velocities scale with increasing distance from the central star. The rather noisy pattern of the motion of individual features argues for the same conclusion and that the silhouetted knots move at the same rate as the surrounding gas. These tangential velocities are combined with information from a recent high-resolution radial velocity study to determine a dynamic distance, which is in basic agreement with the distance determined from the parallax of the central star. We have also obtained very high signal-to-noise ratio moderate resolution spectra (9.4 Å) along the major and minor axes of the nebula and from this determined the electron temperatures and density in the multiple ionization zones present. These results confirm the status of the Ring Nebula as one of the older planetary nebulae, with a central star transitioning to the white dwarf cooling curve.Based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA Contract No. NAS 5-26555 and the San Pedro Mártir Observatory operated by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
The Astronomical Journal
- Pub Date:
- April 2009
- planetary nebulae: individual: Ring Nebula NGC 6720;
- Astrophysics - Galaxy Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- Astronomical Journal, in press