X-ray imaging of planetary nebulae with Wolf-Rayet-type central stars: Detection of the hot bubble in NGC 40

Rodolfo Montez*, Joel H. Kastner, Orsola De Marco, Noam Soker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


We present the results of Chandra X-Ray Observatory observations of the planetary nebulae (PNs) NGC 40 and Hen 2-99. Both PNs feature late-type Wolf-Rayet central stars that are currently driving fast (∼1000 km s -1), massive winds into denser, slow-moving (∼ 10 km s -1) material ejected during recently terminated asymptotic giant branch (AGB) evolutionary phases. Hence, these observations provide key tests of models of wind-wind interactions in PNs. In NGC 40, we detect faint, diffuse X-ray emission distributed within a partial annulus that lies nested within a ∼40″ diameter ring of nebulosity observed in optical and near-infrared images. Hen 2-99 is not detected. The inferred X-ray temperature (TX ∼ 106 K) and luminosity (LX ∼ 2 × 10 30 ergs s-1) of NGC 40 are the lowest measured thus far for any PN displaying diffuse X-ray emission. These results, combined with the ringlike morphology of the X-ray emission from NGC 40, suggest that its X-ray emission arises from a "hot bubble" that is highly evolved and is generated by a shocked, quasi-spherical fast wind from the central star, as opposed to AGB or post-AGB jet activity. In contrast, the lack of detectable X-ray emission from Hen 2-99 suggests that this PN has yet to enter a phase of strong wind-wind shocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-385
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Planetary nebulae: general
  • Planetary nebulae: individual (NGC 40, Hen 2-99)
  • Stars: winds, outflows
  • Stars: Wolf-Rayet
  • X-rays: ISM


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