Planetary Nebulae: Observational Properties, Mimics, and

David J. FrewA,C,D, and Quentin A. ParkerA,B

Department of Physics, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
Anglo-Australian Observatory, Epping, NSW 1710, Australia
Perth Observatory, Bickley, WA 6076, Australia

arXiv:1002.1525v1 [astro-ph.SR] 8 Feb 2010


Abstract: The total number of true, likely and possible planetary nebulae (PN) now known in the
Milky Way is nearly 3000, double the number known a decade ago. The new discoveries are a legacy
of the recent availability of wide field, narrowband imaging surveys, primarily in the light of H-alpha.
In this paper, we summarise the various PN discovery techniques, and give an overview of the many
types of objects which mimic PN and which appear as contaminants in both Galactic and extragalactic
samples. Much improved discrimination of classical PN from their mimics is now possible based on
the wide variety of high-quality multiwavelength data sets that are now available. We offer improved
taxonomic and observational definitions for the PN phenomenon based on evaluation of these better
diagnostic capabilities. However, we note that evidence is increasing that the PN phenomenon is
heterogeneous, and PN are likely to be formed from multiple evolutionary scenarios. In particular, the
relationships between some collimated symbiotic outflows and bipolar PN remain uncertain.
Keywords: catalogs — planetary nebulae: general — stars: AGB and post-AGB — stars: fundamental parameters — surveys — techniques: photometric, spectroscopic



and Kohoutek (2001), published PN found since 2000,
including ∼1250 from the recent MASH catalogues
(Parker et al. 2006; Miszalski et al. 2008), additional discoveries from the IPHAS survey (Viironen et
al. 2009a, 2009b), the new faint PN found as part of
the ongoing Deep Sky Hunters project (Kronberger et
al. 2006; Jacoby et al. 2010, this issue), plus a modest
number of additional PN gleaned from the literature.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to give an exhaustive summary of our current state of knowledge
concerning PN. For reviews on different aspects of the
PN phenomenon, the reader is referred to the works of
Pottasch (1992), Balick & Frank (2002), and De Marco
(2009), and the monograph by Kwok (2000).

A classical planetary nebula (PN) is a shell of ionized gas, ejected from a low- to intermediate-mass star
(∼1 to 8 M⊙ ) towards the end of its life. A PN is
produced at the end of the asymptotic giant branch
(AGB) phase, as the red giant ejects its outer envelope in a final stage of copious mass loss termed the
‘superwind’. After the envelope ejection, the remnant
core of the star increases in temperature before the
nuclear burning ceases and the star quickly fades, becoming a white dwarf (WD). The high temperature of
the central star (CS) causes the previously ejected material to be ionized, which becomes visible as a PN, its
shape sculpted by the interaction between the old red
giant envelope and a tenous, fast wind from the hot
CS (Kwok, Purton & Fitzgerald 1978).
PN1 are an important, albeit brief (≤105 yr), evolutionary phase in the lifetimes of a significant fraction of Milky Way stars. They are an important tool
in our understanding of the physics of mass loss for
intermediate-mass stars, the chemical enrichment of
our Galaxy, and in turn, its star formation history.
PN are ideal test particles to probe the dynamics of
the Milky Way and are amongst the best kinematic
tracers in external galaxies. The PN luminosity function is also a powerful extragalactic distance indicator
(e.g. Ciardullo 2010, this issue).
The total number of currently known Galactic PN
is nearly 3000, which includes all known confirmed
PN from the catalogues of Acker et al. (1992, 1996)


Planetary Nebulae: a working definition

There has been considerable controversy in the past
over the working definition of a PN, based in part on
the differing morphological, spectroscopic, and physical or evolutionary criteria used for classification, which
have changed over the two centuries since their discovery.
It is commonly argued that the PN moniker has a
distinct physical or evolutionary meaning, and should
be restricted to the ionized gaseous shell ejected at
the end of the AGB phase, either by a single star,
or as part of a common-envelope ejection (De Marco
2009, and references therein). This is an important
point, as in many symbiotic systems, which are often
confused with PN, the gas is thought to be donated by

1 For simplicity, we use PN as an abbreviation for both
singular and plural forms.



Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia

a companion giant, and not the precursor of the hot
WD. The WD provides the ionizing photons in these
systems (Corradi 2003), and may have passed through
a PN phase long before.
Surprisingly, a consensus taxonomic definition for
PN remains elusive, even at present. Indeed, there
may be enough diversity in the PN phenomenon that
a pure definition may be unattainable (see §7, below).
Nevertheless, based on an overview of the literature,
extensive experience in the compilation of the MASH
catalogues, as well as an analysis of a large volumelimited PN census now containing ∼400 PN centred on
the Sun (e.g. Frew & Parker 2006; Frew 2008; Frew
et al. 2010, in preparation), we offer the following
phenomenological definition (cf. Kohoutek 2001).
We define a PN as an ionized emission nebula ejected
from what is now the hot central star (CS), which exhibits the following observational and physical characteristics:
• A round or axisymmetric (elliptical or bipolar)
shape, sometimes with multiple shells or outer
haloes. Point-symmetric microstructures (Gon¸calves,
Corradi & Mampaso 2001) are more common in
higher-surface brightness PN, while many evolved
PN are perturbed through interaction with the
interstellar medium (ISM).
• A primarily photoionized emission-line spectrum
characterised by recombination lines of hydrogen and helium as well as various collisionallyexcited forbidden lines of heavier elements such
as O, N, C, Ne, Ar and S, which are prominent
in the UV, optical and IR regions. Signatures of
shock excitation are seen in many objects, especially some bipolar PN with fast outflows, and
PN strongly interacting with the ISM. The [O iii]
lines at λλ4959, 5007˚
A are usually, but not always, the strongest emission lines in the optical,
the exceptions being very low-excitation (VLE)
PN with cool central stars (where the Hα line
may dominate), some Type I objects with very
strong λλ6548,6584˚
A [N ii] lines, and/or PN suffering moderate to heavy extinction.
• A dereddened Hα surface brightness between the
approximate empirical limits of log S(Hα) = +0.5
and −6.5 erg cm−2 s−1 sr−1 (or −10.1 to −17.1
erg cm−2 s−1 arcsec−2 ).
• A reddening-corrected [O iii] absolute magnitude,
M5007 between the empirical limits of −4.5 and
+6.0 mag. Note that some very young PN with
cool CS may have negligible [O iii] emission.
• Thermal free-free (bremsstrahlung) emission in
the radio spectrum.
• Signature of cool dust (Tdust ≃ 100–200 K) in the
infrared, in young to mid-aged PN. Dust emission peaks at around 20 µm for most PN.
• Sometimes PAH emission at 8µm from the enveloping photo-dissociation region, but mostly
in more compact objects.
• A nebular radius, r ≤ 2.5 pc, though the vast
majority have r < 1.5 pc (though see Section 7,

below). Note that the median radius of a volumelimited sample within 1 kpc (dominated by old
PN) is ∼0.6 pc. Young PN (and pre-PN) typically have radii < 0.05 pc. Many young and
mid-aged PN are surrounded by extended AGB
haloes, which typically are a factor of ∼103 fainter
than the main PN shell (Corradi et al. 2003).
• An ionized mass roughly between the empirical
limits √
of 0.005 and 3 M⊙ , with a median value
of 0.5 ǫ M⊙ , where ǫ is the volume-filling factor. These limits differentiate PN from both
low-mass nova shells and high-mass circumstellar shells around massive Population I stars. Recent observations have shown that the ionized
mass of some symbiotic outflows approaches 0.1 M⊙ ,
so there is substantial overlap between the classes
(see Santander-Garcia et al. 2008).
• An electron density between 100 and 105 cm−3 ,
which is generally less than the densities seen in
symbiotic stars (106 to >1010 cm−3 ).
• A shell expansion velocity typically between 10–
60 kms−1 though some strongly bipolar PN can
have considerably higher expansion velocities (up
to 300 kms−1 ) along the major axis.
By definition, a PN surrounds a hot, low-mass CS,
which may in fact be off-centre in some old examples
due to an asymmetric ISM interaction (see Wareing
2010, and Sabin et al. 2010, in this issue). The CS has
a temperature of at least 20,000 K (up to ∼250,000 K),
and a mass between the empirical limits of ∼0.55 and
0.9 M⊙ . It is possible that PN surrounding lower mass
CS are formed via a common-envelope process, while
PN around higher mass CS (up to the Chandrasekhar
limit at ∼1.35 M⊙ ) are not observed due to selection
effects, i.e. very rapid evolution of the CS.
The observed absolute visual magnitudes of CS are
in the range, −2.5 ≥ MV ≤ +7.5. Corresponding surface gravities are generally in the range, log g ≃ 2.5–7.5
cms−2 . Gravities are lower (0.5–2.5 cms−2 ) in the immediate progenitors of PN, the post-AGB stars (for a
review, see Van Winckel 2003).
Spectral types for the majority of CS range from
OB and sdO through to DAO and DA. Up to 20% of
CS are H-deficient, including those where Wolf-Rayet
(WR) features are present — these are denoted [WR]
to differentiate them from their Population I cousins.
Almost all belong to the [WC]/[WO] sequence except
for the rare [WN] objects N 66 in the LMC (Hamann et
al. 2003) and PM 5 in the Galaxy (Morgan, Parker &
Cohen 2003). However, further work is needed to completely rule out the possibility that this latter object
is a Population I WR ring nebula. New multiwavelength observations of N 66 are needed regardless of
other arguments, considering that over the past twenty
years it has exhibited rapid changes in its spectrum.
N66 seems to have developed its WR features over the
course of only three years (Pe˜
na et al. 1995), suggesting that the [WN] phase might be a temporary
phenomenon in intermediate-mass H-deficient stars.
Other H-deficient stars include the weak emissionline stars (wels), and the PG 1159 types, which are
thought to be the progeny of the [WC] and [WO] stars

a large and diverse range of detection methods has been used in their discovery. This technique has been used extremely successfully by Jacoby and co-workers for the discovery of numerous extragalactic PN (e.b). Boumis et al. surface brightness. MASHI) and Miszalski et al. (2006. The first of these was the photographic Anglo-Australian Observatory / UK Schmidt Telescope (AAO/ UKST) Hα survey of the Southern Galactic plane. These recent finds hint that there are still numerous faint PN remaining to be discovered on broadband surveys outside the zones covered by the AAO/UKST and IPHAS surveys. by the work of Minkowski (1946). Comparison of deep on-band and off-band CCD imaging (Beaulieu. A vast increase in known PN numbers has occurred in the last decade due to the advent of deep. More recently. More recently.1 3. stacked . Werner & Herwig 2004. presented as a guide to the reader. many highly-evolved PN candidates (e. relatively high-surface brightness PN. Cappellaro et al. These authors used a novel Hα/SR colour merging technique to find 460 new PN from a deep. for example. likely and possible PN. (2008. Lauberts 1982. Image Comparison Techniques Subtraction or quotient imaging has been applied to digitized photographic survey plates and films. This technique has been particularly applicable to the Galactic bulge. which covers the northern Galactic plane. The photographic films have been completely digitized and are now available online as the SuperCOSMOS Hα Survey (SHS. morphology. It should be emphasised that spectroscopy is required to confirm the PN candidates found in this way.g. Candidates were then examined using combined RGB images made from the Hα. Whiting. 2010) are being found on Hα mosaic images from the Isaac Newton Telescope Photometric Hα Survey (IPHAS. 3. Dopita & Freeman 1999. 1990. The various methods used to discover PN over the last hundred years or so are briefly summarised below. For example. Hartl & Weinberger 1980. Drew et al. 2010. [N ii] and [S ii] lines. and Henize (1967). Kohoutek 1963. continuum-subtracted Hα images from the Southern Hα Sky Survey Atlas (SHASSA. Jacoby et al. for example. MASH-II).g. Herschel in particular assigned nebulous objects to the PN class purely on morphological grounds. Kerber et al. high-resolution surveys of the Galactic plane in the light of Hα. discoveries have come from direct inspection of narrow-band CCD survey imagery. Jacoby et al. Sabin et al. for further details). 3. excitation class. 2005). Jacoby & De Marco 2002). and evolutionary state shown by individual PN. Parker et al. the IPHAS consortium has discovered numerous compact PN candidates (Viironen et al. Some of the brightest and best-known PNe were found over two centuries ago at the telescope eyepiece by pioneering observers like Charles Messier and William Herschel. generated from scanned Hα and matching broadband-red photographic data. initially by visual methods. 2008. we should mention the PN discovered directly from broadband Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) digital images. the SHS parameterised object (IAM) data was mined for PN by investigating colour-magnitude plots and looking for outliers (see Miszalski et al. More recently. 2006. Additionally for the MASH-II survey. 2009b) using a range of colour-colour plots. which represented a near doubling of the PN population known at that time. integrated flux.publish.g. 2003. typified. Gaustad et al. (2008) systematically searched the SHS using blocked-down (factor 16×) quotient images. The middle decades of the twentieth century provided a vast increase in the number of new PN as photographic surveys reached greater depth. and De Marco 2008). 2006) has found additional PN in the Galactic bulge. SR and B-band SuperCOSMOS data at full resolution to help ascertain their nature. see Marcolino & de Ara´ ujo 2003. Miszalski et al. Abell 1966. 1998. Wray (1966). 2005). these proceedings).2 Visual Inspection of Optical Imagery Numerous evolved PN were discovered from painstaking visual scrutiny of large numbers of broadband POSS I and ESO/SERC Schmidt plates and films (e. but with only minimal success (Frew. Finally. On the other hand. 2001) were used to search for new large Galactic PN. but primarily from objective-prism photographic plates. including ∼100 candidates found from systematic visual scans of online images conducted by a team of amateur astronomers (see Kronberger et al. 2009a.csiro. These contain a total of ∼1250 true. For the MASH-II survey. Longmore 1977. Dengel. and references therein). (1994) found three new PN and a Herbig-Haro object by comparing digitized POSS red and infrared (IR) plates.3 (for As befits the large range in apparent size. narrowband. which contains large numbers of compact. central star magnitude. This survey has provided the source material for the Macquarie/ AAO/ Strasbourg Hα (MASH) catalogues of Galactic PN of Parker et al.3 www. Madsen & Parker 2006). (2007) found several faint PN candidates from the POSS-II and ESO/SERC surveys while searching for nearby dwarf galaxies. Finally we note the PN discoveries in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) by Reid & Parker (2006 a. 3 PN Detection Techniques Spectroscopic discoveries Many early PN discoveries were made spectroscopically. This procedure works because the I-band filter passes relatively weak emission lines compared to the R-band which includes the bright Hα. Hau & Irwin (2002) and Whiting et al.

and often show strong continua from embedded OB stars (Jacoby 2006). Figure 1). but generally appear more extended if not too distant. Compact H ii regions in external galaxies can also be confused with PN. and galaxies. (2009) are undertaking a search using a multiwavelength approach. 3.1 HII regions and Str¨ omgren zones A number of compact H ii regions have been picked up by the numerous objective-prism surveys over the years. Cohen et al. shell and disk-shaped sources in the Galactic plane at 24 µm in Spitzer MIPSGAL images. NGC 2579 is another interesting case: this distant H ii region has also been classified as a planetary nebula (=Ns 238. a fact that is often not fully appreciated. Not all H ii regions surround massive stars. Kwok et al.4 Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia Hα + red continuum map of the central 25 deg2 region of the LMC. 2006). Abell 77 (Bohigas & Tapia 2003.4 Discoveries at non-optical wavelengths Search techniques at infrared and longer wavelengths have the advantage of avoiding the worst effects of interstellar extinction. Parker et al. usually have lower ionization emission lines.g. van der Veen & Habing 1988. so a much needed review is given in this section. (2010) are investigating a range of diagnostic tools to find more PN in the GLIMPSE dataset. (2010). 2004) and Sh 2-174 (Madsen et al. 2008). Figure 1).g. Lastly. 1987. In these cases. (2006) and Cohen et al. Mid-IR imagery will allow the detection of extremely reddened PN that are invisible at optical wavelengths. Jacoby & Van de Steene (2004) have conducted an on/off-band CCD survey of a region of the Galactic bulge in the light of [S iii] λ9532. and Cohen et al. Image comparison techniques have also been undertaken in the near-IR. if any. 2007. 1990. 2005. 2007).2 It is clear that the potential for such contaminants to appear in the various catalogues of PN is high. Su´ arez et al. Nordstr¨ om 1975. 2010. Likely examples include He 2-77 and He 2-146 (Cohen et al. or on the object having a PN-like spectrum (e. Parker et al. Recent work by our team has shown that several nearby nebulae currently accepted as PN are simply Str¨ omgren zones in the ISM (Frew & Parker 2006. Abell 1966). A large number of PN candidates have been selected from their IRAS colours (e. 2006.7) is illustra- 4. high-excitation PN. Similarly. 2 For detailed images of these and other objects. 1988.and midIR characteristics (including any embedded sources) is usually enough to differentiate between (ultra-) compact H ii regions and PN. They may have emissionline ratios which mimic true PN as the ionizing stars can still be very hot. while Ramos-Larios et al.g. environment. While many PN have a canonical morphology and spectrum (see Figure 2). The similarity in the morphologies of some bipolar PN like NGC 6537 and Hubble 5 with the symbiotic outflow He 2-104 (see Figure 1. 2006) and high-resolution optical/IR or radio images are obtained. Gussie 1995) is now interpreted as a compact H ii region contaminated by N-rich ejecta from a WR star (MartinHern´ andez et al. 2008. This technique has the benefit of detecting very reddened PN. Cohen et al. 2010). Madsen et al. With limited data sets available. having long since dissipated. tive. Pottasch et al. Kistiakowsky and Helfand 1995. 2006). We 1-12 (Kaler & Feibelman 1985. Parker et al. 2010). Frew et al. . a cometary nebula (Parsamyan & Petrosyan 1979) and an ordinary reflection nebula in the past (see the discussion by Copetti et al. consideration of the nebular spectral features. there is always a question mark over these PN candidates until confirmatory spectra (e. (2009) and Flagey et al.g.g. Kimeswenger 1998). e. However.g. and even three candidate globular clusters have turned out to be PN after spectroscopic analysis (Bica et al. Further details are given in Cohen & Parker (2003). The peculiar nebula M 1-78 (e. discovering 94 candidate PN. especially close to the Galactic bulge and plane. (2009) have noted over 400 compact (<1′ ) ring. Kohoutek 2001. reflection nebulae. see http://www. with several being misidentified as PN (see figure 2). 4 PN Mimics A heterogeneous variety of contaminating emissionline objects have been a big problem in PN catalogues over the years. each one ionized by a hot white dwarf or subdwarf star — the original PN. finds have been made from Spitzer GLIMPSE data (e. 2006. radio fluxes. Corradi & Melnick 1992). 2008. Either the emphasis was placed on morphology (e. 1995. Miszalski et al. and §4. and M 2-62 (Figure 3). Garc´ıaLario et al. Schwarz. 2006. Hewett 1 (Chu et al. the optical nebula is typically only the ionized component of a much larger mid-IR structure. many of these objects may turn out to be strongly reddened. these nebulae are low-mass H ii regions. PN have been found lurking in lists of H ii regions. Van de Steene & Pottasch 1993. Wray 1966). Therefore it is germane to investigate PN mimics in detail (see Acker et al. Preite-Martinez 1988. primarily because many new PN candidates were classified using only one or two criteria. 1997). we have found that a multiwavelength approach is the only way to reject unusual candidates unequivocally (Parker et al. Other H ii regions have symmetrical forms which have been confused with PN. Carey et al. Ratag et al. Phillips & Ramos-Larios 2008). it is understandable why a range of different astrophysical objects have turned up in published PN catalogues.g. That is. in preparation). and near. and the success rates have so far been modest.washington.astro. In general.

5′ ). . (3): The WR ejecta nebula. vBe 1 (Hα. PCG 11 (Hα.publish. (2): The faint shell around the Wolf-Rayet star WR 16 (Hα. 4′ ).csiro. diffuse HII region. 3′ ). (3): The low-surface brightness. 20′ ). (4) Longmore 14. 5′ ). 5′ ). (4): The true PN PHR J1424-5138 as a comparison object. a reflection nebula (BJ . He 3-1191 (Hα. He 2-104 (Hα. 5′ ). Note the unusually bright CS relative to the low nebular surface brightness for this particular PN (Hα.www. Second row: (1): Abell 77 (Sh 2-128). (2): The old nova shell around GK Per (RF . adapted from DSS and SHS images. from left to right: (1): NGC 6164/65. Bottom row: (1): Faint bipolar nebula around the B[e] 5 Figure 1: Images of various PN mimics. a H ii region ionized by a hot white dwarf (RF . a bipolar ejecta nebula around the Of star HD 148937 (BJ image. a compact HII region (RF . (4): Bipolar symbiotic outflow. Top row. 10′ ). 5′ ). 5′ ). 10′ ). 10′ wide). (3): Sh 2-174. (3): Blue compact galaxy He 2-10 (RF .

a compact VLE PN with no [O iii] emission. (R) PHR J1641-5302. . All spectra cover the same wavelength range (4000–7500˚ A) and were taken with the SAAO 1. Bottom row: (L) K 1-27.6 Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia Figure 2: Representative PN spectra showing the diversity in line-ratios amongst the class. except for RPZM 31 which was observed with 6dF on the 1. a typical PN of medium-high excitation. (right) RCW 69 (Frew. a reddened. Second row: (L) RPZM 31. Parker & Russeil 2006). bipolar Type I PN with very strong [N ii] lines. some bright lines have been truncated for clarity. This PN also has a dense unresolved core (Parker & Morgan 2003) with strong λ4363 emission.2-m UKST. a peculiar PN with very high excitation — note the very strong λ4686 He ii line and the complete absence of [N ii] and [S ii] lines. and the CIV feature at 5806˚ A. 2004). a high excitation PN around a [WO4] central star. (R) PFP 1 (Pierce et al.9-m reflector. Top row: (left) NGC 7009. non-Type I PN with quite strong [N ii] lines. note the broad emission feature from the CS near 4650˚ A due to CIII and HeII. a highly-evolved.

9-m reflector. All spectra cover the same wavelength range (4000–7500˚ A) and were taken with the SAAO 1. Third row: (L) He 3-1191. (R) An M-type giant where the continuum peak near 6550˚ A can mimic Hα emission in narrowband filters. a LBV star with a rich emission-line spectrum which resembles a B[e] star. Top row: (left) PTB 15. . a B[e] star surrounded by a faint bipolar outflow — note the intense. (right) M 2-62. and the forest of Fe ii and [Fe ii] lines. Bottom row: (L) Eta Carinae. a emission-line galaxy with cz = 2300 kms−1 . a reddened.publish. a low-excitation symbiotic star with weak B[e] characteristics. (R) PHR J0950-5223. 7 Figure 3: Representative spectra of a range of PN mimics. a ring-shaped nebula with a CS that shows symbiotic characteristics.csiro.www. strong [O i]λ6300. a compact knot in the Vela supernova remnant. showing strong [S ii] and [O i] lines. λ4363 ≃ Hγ.e. Second row: (L) PHR J0818-4728. compact HII region. broad Hα line. but there is no sign of any [O i]λ6300 emission. (R) BI Crucis.

Circumstellar nebulae are often found around WR stars. but is one to two orders of magnitude more massive. the one-sided filamentary PN.6). and compact PN (though see Pereira et al.g. Lutz & Kaler 1983) and Lo 14 (Longmore 1977. and are closely associated with regions of active star formation. (1998) and Zanin & Kerber (2000). 4. Abell 21 and Sh 2-188. These lines help to differentiate LBVs from B[e] stars. Many HAeBe stars have rather similar spectra to the B[e] stars but often have reversed P Cygni profiles. the occasional ‘cometary’ reflection nebula (e. Raga. Due to the combination of low excitation and high density. while PCG 11 (Cohen. luminous blue variables (LBVs). [Ni] and [Oi] emission (e. Jacoby & Harris 1991. Another example of an LBV nebula is the famous Homunculus (e. 2008. but are generally more extended (if not too distant to be resolved). & Filipovi´c 2008). early-type hypergiants which display rich emission-line spectra from H. Parker. so the jury remains out on their nature. e. bipolar nebula NGC 6164–65 (Figure 1) surrounding the Ofp star HD 148937. M 1-67 (Merrill’s star). the optical and near-IR broadband colours and continuous spectra of reflection nebulae allow them to be readily differentiated from PN. such as NGC 1985 (Sabbadin & Hamzaoglu 1981. it was formed over a very brief period (<5 yr. though these authors pointed out that some rare.g. Cant´ o 1981. Conversely. 2006). old SNRs (see Stupar. Another example is the annular nebula He 2-58 (Thackeray 1950. Jacoby 2006).g. Perek & Kohoutek 1967). e. can be generally separated from PN using optical emission-line diagnostic diagrams (see §5). and HD 168625 (Smith 2007). a signature of accretion or matter infall (Lamers et al. This presents a morphology that closely resembles a bipolar PN (e. 4. The blue [S ii] lines are very strong relative to Hβ in both candidates.g. 2002). Remarkably. Parsamyan & Petrosyan 1979. shock-excited pre-PN appear to have similar spectral features (e. especially if the emission-line ratios are equivocal. was initially catalogued as a PN by Henize (1967). for a discussion of the problems in classification). LBVs are variable. He and a number of permitted and forbidden metal species.g. In most cases. which was suspected to be an unusual PN for many years (e. Neckel & Staude 1984) has been confused with a PN on morphological grounds. associated with the LBV star AG Carinae. subgiant or giant stars with prominent Balmer emission (see Porter & . Attention is also drawn to the unusual filamentary nebula FP 0821-2755.2 Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia Reflection nebulae A few symmetrical reflection nebulae have been misclassified as PN over the years. In general. Note that from the initial visual search of the AAO/UKST Hα Survey. due to their distinctive morphology. and their proximity to star-forming regions and associated molecular clouds with high levels of surrounding extinction. In general there can sometimes be confusion between old arcuate PN and partially fragmented. 1998). Hb 5). see Dopita (1978). Smith 2009) ejected by the eruptive variable η Carinae. reflection nebulae were weeded out from PN candidates by comparing short-red and I-band images with Hα images.3 Population I circumstellar nebulae Circumstellar nebulae are found around OB type stars. the blue λλ4068.g.6 B[e] stars Be stars are B-type main-sequence. Population I WR stars. massive stars with exceptionally strong stellar winds that shape the surrounding ISM. 4. Goodrich 1991). A few individual compact knots of extended SNRs have also been misidentified as PN candidates.4076˚ A [S ii] lines are often particularly strong relative to Hβ in HH objects. and PHR 0818-4728. and supergiant B[e] stars (see §4. Henize 1967). Marston (1997) found that ∼35% of 114 southern WR stars have detectable circumstellar nebulae in Hα.g. which are evolved. Figure 1). B¨ ohm & Cant´ o (1996) and Reipurth & Bally (2001). Furthermore. Related to HH objects are the T Tauri stars and Herbig Ae/Be stars. 1994. 1994). examples are NGC 6888 (the Crescent Nebula) and the near spherical limb-brightened shell around WR 16 (Marston et al.8 4. which can be used to ascertain their true character. Cappellaro et al. and like their Galactic counterparts. CTB 1 = Abell 85 (Abell 1966). HH objects can usually be readily differentiated from PN. SNRs in external galaxies may possibly be confused with PN (Ciardullo. including a discussion of the spectra of HH objects.4 Supernova remnants (SNRs) At least one filamentary nebula initially classed as a PN has turned out to be a SNR. Wray 17-96 (Egan et al. Figure 1). Other WR nebulae are simple wind-blown shells in the ISM. It has been classified in the literature as a possible SNR by Weinberger et al. We note that a few WR ejecta nebulae have been confused with PN in the past. though it is more likely to be a peculiar Type I PN instead (Parker et al. such as H 2-12 which is a bright knot in Kepler’s SNR (Acker et al. The peculiar nitrogen-rich. We note that two of the four compact PN candidates identified by Viironen (2009a) are located in areas of very heavy obscuration.5 Herbig-Haro (HH) objects and young-stellar objects (YSOs) For detailed reviews. Figure 1) is another example showing a PN-like morphology. 1987). an isolated knot in the Vela SNR (Figure 3). have been misclassified as SNRs in the past. the presence of shock-excited spectral features such as strong [S ii]. other emissionline stars. Smith 2006) during the Great Eruption of this star observed in the 1840s (Frew 2004). 4. if the reddening is not too severe. Several other candidate LBVs have surrounding nebulae that are morphologically similar to PN: examples are Hen 3-519 (Stahl 1987). Parker & Green 2005.g.

For example. nicknamed the Red Square (Tuthill & Lloyd 2007). the major axis of the nebula subtends 0. Marston & McCollum 2008. Several of the most luminous sgB[e] stars appear to have large. but obviously further work is needed (Kraus et al. As a result. denoted unclB[e]. which may be hinting at a binary origin. Nussbaumer 1996). in the main. The evolutionary state of the unusual B[e] star MWC 922 is uncertain. [O i] and [O ii]. However. At this distance. which leads to a nebular major axis length of 0. 1995) and He 2-90 (Guerrero et al. but it too has a surrounding strongly bipolar nebula. like the pair of bipolar outflows or “wing-nuts”. (c) cPNB[e]. Another is He 3-1191 (Figures 1 & 3). the median diameter of the sample is found to be 0. 2007). this indicates the Calabash is probably a symbiotic outflow (see § 4.or K-type giants. e. suggesting that sgB[e] stars are primarily a merger product.g.or pre-PN3 in the literature.9 www. arguing that symbiotics and PN (and pre-PN) have physical links. Observationally. Riera & Mampaso 1999.7) and should be removed from the pre-PN class. He 3-401 (Garc´ıa-Lario. Is this object also a merger product.g. Morris & Ivanova (2006) propose that the merger rate of massive stars is compatible with the B[e] supergiant formation rate. and are best referred to as a collective of stars showing the ‘B[e] phenomenon’ (Lamers et al. (2007) have argued for adoption of the term pre-PN to refer to these objects. often bipolar nebular shells associated (e. Most stars in this latter group are now placed in the FS CMa class (Miroshnichenko 2007). Mz 3. An additional class. (d) SymB[e]. 2008). or more than an order of magnitude larger than most bona fide pre-PN. Bally & Walawender 2007). Livio & Soker 2001).7). which has a well determined phase-lag distance of 1. M 1-91 is another closely similar nebula (Rodr´ıguez. supergiants. is also called a bipolar pre-PN. so it may be best classed as a symbiotic B[e] star. symbiotic B[e] stars.05 pc (recall §2). 4. the sgB[e] stars appear to have fast rotation and/or the presence of an accretion disk. as well as a strong IR excess.8–3. though other mechanisms have been proposed (Polcaro 2006). cf.4–0. Smith 2003). The B[e] stars are not a homogenous class of objects.g. Hrivnak et al. the ionized . 2009). and (e) unclassified stars. and contain cooler dust than the D-types (Allen 1982).publish. along with a strong IR excess and extremely collimated outflows). 2005). 1992). that we can suggest they might form a homogenous class. the D′ symbiotics. Sahai et al. (2005) found that the central star of the PN-like nebula He 2-90 is also rotating very rapidly. as has been postulated for the FS CMa stars (Miroshnichenko 2007)? It seems logical to propose that a binary channel is applicable to all stars showing the B[e] phenomenon. Symbiotic stars are subdivided into S-type systems which contain a normal (stellar ) red giant which dominates the near-IR colours. Menzel 3 (Smith 2003. Kraus et al. Several B[e] stars were confused with compact or unresolved PN on early objective-prism plates. Many of these nebulae are simply called proto. 2000). Smith & Gehrz 2005).csiro. 1999. unrelated to each other. Using this data. cf. The traditional definition encompasses those interacting binary objects that show a composite spectrum with emission lines of H I and He I (and often [O iii] and He II) present in conjunction with an absorption spectrum of a late-type giant star (Allen 1984. they show a wide variety of spectral characteristics. Pereira et al. G. Kraus et al.8+4. Other nebulae. Combined with the presence of a heavily obscured Mira star. (2007) estimated distances and angular sizes for 23 pre-PN. Another pre-PN candidate is 3 Sahai et al. Kingsburgh & English 1992. its evolutionary state is unknown. 1998.8 pc. Belczy´ nski et al. In contrast. 1997. Habing & Geballe 1989. Examples are M 2-9 (Schwarz et al. (1998) subdivided them into (a) sgB[e].4 pc. the Ant nebula. strong Balmer emission plus a rich zoo of permitted and forbidden metal lines. while the B[e] stars have additional forbidden emission lines of species such as [Fe ii].2 (the Calabash nebula). 1987). see Munari & Zwitter (2002) for a comprehensive spectral atlas of symbiotic stars. In addition.3 kpc (Cohen et al. Corradi 2003) often show close morphological similarity to highly collimated bipolar PN. Podsiadlowski. compact planetary nebula central stars. In reality. many have been misinterpreted as compact and ‘stellar’ PN in previous catalogues (see Acker et al. published distances range from 1. M 1-76 (Sabbadin & Bianchini 1979). (b) premain sequence HAeB[e]stars. bipolar outflows. Kastner et Rivinius 2003 for a review).3 kpc (e. He 3-1475 (Riera et al. The group includes several evolutionary phases that are. There is also evidence of a cool giant (Smith 2003) in this system.7 Symbiotic Stars and Outflows A wide range of stars with emission lines have been discovered over the years from low angular and spectral resolution objective-prism surveys. a B[e] star with a dusty circumstellar disk (Lachaume et al. Van der Veen. 2008. Phillips & Cuesta 1999. it is likely that most are not true PN (Corradi & Schwarz 1995. The most common stellar-appearing PN mimics are the symbiotic stars. as has been suggested for a number of their class? Gathering up the scanty distance information from the literature suggests not. We use the definition given by Corradi (2003) which states that in resolved symbiotic nebulae. regardless of evolutionary state. Miroshnichenko 2006). He 2-25 and Th 2-B (Corradi 1995) have central stars with strong λ4363 [O iii] emission. contain F-. and D-type systems where the central binary contains a Mira and the near-IR colours are dominated by heated dust. 2010. Corradi 1995. Lamers et al. 2001.g. many of which are associated with highly collimated. 1978. but there are enough morphological and spectroscopic similarities amongst these objects (e. Kwok 2003. Even though some authors use the term ‘symbiotic PN’. or at least the spawn of a strong mass exchange process. Kenyon 1986. Smith. An important subclass in the context of this review are the cPNB[e] stars. OH 231. A class of resolved symbiotic outflows around Dtype symbiotic Miras (Corradi et al. Corradi & Mampaso 2001). Should these B[e] outflows be classed as pre-PN. characteristic of symbiotic outflows (see Section 4.

In the future. 2009). However. so is it related to the EGB 6-like PN. Smith & Cunha 2005). Bond (2009) speculates that it could arise in an accretion disk of material around the companion captured from the outflow that produced the surrounding large PN (see also Bilikova et al. its intrinsic variability. for a further discussion). these are He 2-428 (Rodr´ıguez 4. This leads to potential confusion between some symbiotic stars and emission-line cores in PN. In a similar vein to both PN and B[e] stars. Peyaud et al. Several have been catalogued as ‘stellar’ PN in the past. EGB 6 (Ellis. The spectrum has the typical emission lines of a symbiotic system. emission-line nebula (Liebert et al. Nevertheless. It is currently unclear if this is a pole-on symbiotic outflow or an EGB 6-like PN. For an illustration of the confusion present in the literature. 1997.7. slowly expanding nebulae around them which appear to be fossil PN (Corradi 2003. 2007) and Cn 1-1 = HDE 330036 (Lutz 1984. 2010. 1989). Munari & Zwitter 2002) and PM 1-322 (Pereira & Miranda 2005). Gesicki et al. Pereira. 1994. 2003) which appears as a thick annulus with an obvious off-centre CS on SHS Hα images. many PN with binary central stars may go through a symbiotic phase in the future. along with the extreme bipolar morphology. 2003). so it is not expected to be the mass donor in a classical symbiotic system. but the luminosity at Ks is less than expected for an AGB or RGB star for our preferred distance range of 3–7 kpc. The 2MASS colours are very red. We note two other evolved PN which have interesting emission-line nuclei. Grayson & Bond 1984). emission nebulae around a central binary star (see Gesicki et al. cf. and as such has observational similarities with the symbiotic stars. Some of the most problematic objects belong to the yellow D′ -type symbiotic class (Jorrisen 2003. We plan further observations of this interesting nebula. and possibly PC 11 (Guti´errezMoreno & Moreno 1998. high-density. Miszalski et al. bona fide PN. Schmid & Nussbaumer 1993). Bran 229 (Frew et al. Corradi et al. . high-density. Similarly. this has been thought to be either a very compact PN or a symbiotic star (De Marco 2009). this would explain the observed spectral features. 2001. Jorissen et al. may indicate that it is a symbiotic outflow analogous to its better studied Milky Way cousins. when the companion star evolves to the AGB. HST imaging shows it is actually associated with a resolved companion to the true CS. Our spectrum across the CS shows strong [O iii]λ4363 emission superposed on the nebular background. we consider that the ‘symbiotic phenomenon’ is quite heterogeneous and is manifested in a wider range of evolutionary states than is usually appreciated. Parker et al. Its large size of ∼0. the very red IR colours of the central source. is shown by Shaw et al. also has a unresolved high-density nebula around the CS as revealed by strong λ4363 emission (Figure 2). lowsurface brightness. Probable examples include AS 201 (Schwarz 1991) and V417 Cen (Van Winckel et al.1 EGB 6 and its kin We give an interlude at this point to discuss the nearby (∼500 pc) low-surface brightness. It was observed spectroscopically in July 2000 (see Figure 3) where the unusual spectrum of the central star later led to it being removed from the final MASH catalogue (cf. as has the bipolar nebula around the nearby Mira star R Aquarii (Kaler 1981 and references therein). there is also no sign of any CV characteristics. some D′ -type symbiotic stars have resolved. RP 916. 2005.75 pc is notable. 2008) while initially classified as a PN (Henize 1967). is ostensibly of the same class — all three nebulae have Mira stars as their central engines. The central star of EGB 6 contains an unresolved. the Southern Crab (Lutz et al. Parker & Morgan (2003) found that PHR J16415302. Another unusual object. Bond (2009) summarises the properties of the compact nebula. evolutionary links between the symbiotic outflows and PN are likely: many current symbiotic systems may have been PN in the past when the WD companion was at an earlier phase in its evolution. We also note PTB 15 (Boumis et al. 2010. He 2-104. such as M 1-2 (Siviero et al. Corradi & Schwarz 1997). the origin of the compact nebula is unclear. We further note that it is completely stellar on all available images. EGB 6 can be thought of as a prototype of a class of otherwise normal PN holding compact. Recent observations show that EGB 6 is no longer unique as other PN with unresolved inner nebulae are now known. Corradi & Schwarz 1993). Zijlstra & Gesicki 2008. near-IR spectroscopic observations should shed light on the true nature of this unusual object. A deep search for a fossil PN around this system might be rewarding. and M 2-29 (Torres-Peimbert et al. Corradi (2003) has also used a simple statistical argument to show it is highly improbable that a true PN central star would have a binary Mira companion. Santander-Garc´ıa et al.10 Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia gas originates from a star in the RGB or AGB phase. all of which have evidence for a cool companion to the CS. 2010. or is it a genuine yellow symbiotic? An argument against the latter is that the B9 star is expected to have a negligible wind. If instead the B9 star has accreted a compact disk of material during a recent PN phase of the companion star. (2007) to be a very unusual nebula. a high excitation PN with a [WO4] CS. Hajduk. as it may have features in common with objects like AS 201. Note this object was originally discovered as part of the MASH survey and designated PHR 17571711. including NGC 6804 (A. in preparation). both showing the Ca II infrared triplet in emission. However. Corradi & Schwarz 1993. a recently discovered PN candidate in the LMC (Reid & Parker 2006b). Frankowski & Jorissen 2007). the bipolar outflow around BI Crucis has always been considered to be a symbiotic nebula since discovery (Schwarz & Corradi 1992. but not unprecedented amongst symbiotic nebulae (Corradi 2003). 2009a. 1989. On the other hand. Another example is WhMe 1 = IRAS 19127+1717 (Whitelock & Menzies 1986). However. but the underlying continuum is that of a B9 III–V star (Whitelock & Menzies 1986). 2010). in preparation).

or two to four orders of magnitude less mass than is contained in a PN shell. considered as PN candidates. which are likely to be WDs in binary systems accreting matter at a high enough rate to allow quasi-steady burning of hydrogen in their envelopes (Kahabka & van den Heuvel 1997). erroneously classified as ‘gaseous nebulae’. Mira variables can also have the hydrogen Balmer lines in emission. PHR J1654-4143) . The emission lines are caused by pulsation-induced shock waves in the Mira’s atmosphere. nova-like variables and dwarf novae. Erupting novae in the nebular phase show strong Balmer and [O iii] emission and were sometimes confused in the past with unresolved PN on objectiveprism plates. Indeed. so ordinary latetype stars are not a contaminant in this survey (Corradi et al. At later stages in the evolution of classical and recurrent novae. Of course follow-up spectroscopy settles the matter in uncertain cases.11 www. variable stars can be sometimes misidentified as compact PN candidates in any techniques which use on-band/off-band image subtraction or blinking. IC 4544 = IL Normae and IC 4816 = V1059 Sgr). 1987. main sequence star. and Abell 35 are all quite similar hinting that the emission is due to a combination of shock excitation and photoionization. Shara et al. Recently. The shell around GK Persei (Nova Persei 1901) is the best-known example of the class (Figure 1) but is a rather atypical remnant in a number of ways (Bode 2009). the use of I-band imagery enables the M-type stellar contaminants to be effectively removed from lists of PN candidates when the excess is less extreme. There are even a few old novae in the NGC/IC catalogues (e. Persson 1988). the peculiar PN-like nebula Abell 35 (Jacoby 1981. The northern IPHAS survey uses a combination of narrowband Hα. symbiotic stars. 1984). and usually more prominent near maximum light. Hollis et al. For example. In addition. Bode 2004). Contaminating novae have also been found in recent CCD surveys for PN in the Magellanic Clouds (Jacoby 2006). Madsen & Parker 2006. YSOs and T Tauri stars (e. has a PN-like optical spectrum. Roche lobe-filling companion. CVs are semi-detached binaries in which a WD star is accreting material from a close.g. It is probably a pulsar wind bowshock seen relatively head on (Hester & Kulkarni 1988).au/journals/pasa et al.g. (2008b). Emission nebulae with ‘PN-like’ optical spectra and morphologies (Remillard. comprised of gaseous ejecta produced in the nova eruption. These bands continue to rise strongly redward but they cannot be used to aid in discrimination due to the emulsion cut-off at ∼7000˚ A that corresponds to a band dip. Rappaport & Macri 1995) are known to be associated with luminous supersoft Xray sources (SSS).g. 2001) and IPHAS PN-1 (Mampaso et al. has been recently discovered by Wesson et al. the spectra of ordinary M-type giant stars can present apparent ‘emission’ near Hα due to the relative brightness of the red continuum around 6600˚ A compared to the deep absorption dips from TiO band-heads at adjacent wavelengths. More recently. Another example of a likely old PN around a classical nova. V458 Vul. Although many sources with an apparent excess are true Hα emitters. GK Persei is of further interest due to the presence of a possible ancient PN surrounding it (see Bode et al. 4. but has very strong non-thermal radio emission. cataclysmic variables. though both appear to be beyond 3 kpc in distance. suggesting similar nuclei are rare. Pulsar wind nebulae can also have similar optical spectra. and more work is need to disentangle the relationships between the various sub-classes. 2008). Neither star shows the optical [Fe ii] lines typical of the B[e] stars because these lines are collisionally quenched at very high densities. 1984. (2007) reported a large extended fossil nova shell around the dwarf nova. and can have spectral signatures reminiscent of PN. in preparation). at least initially. the morphologies and optical spectra of EGB 4. This can occur if the exposures are not contemporaneous and the star has changed brightness between exposures (Jacoby 2006). V341 Ara (Frew. the compact core of the supernova remnant CTB 80 is morphologically like a PN in [O iii] light (Blair et al. Poorly known PN candidates in the current catalogues (e. BV 5-2. 1996) may be a bowshock nebula inside a photoionized Str¨ omgren sphere in the ambient ISM (see Frew 2008 for a discussion). Z Cam.8 Late-type stars On small-scale objective-prism red plates. and Sloan r ′ and i′ filters. many compact PN candidates have been discovered from the Hα − R versus R plots obtained from SuperCOSMOS IAM data (Parker et al. 2006). We emphasise the surprising diversity in the spectra of emission-line CS of PN-like nebulae. Downes & Duerbeck 2000). Greiner et al. and both were.g. some pre-PN.10 Miscellaneous emission nebulae This is a rather heterogeneous class of objects. very dense cores (ne >1010 cm−3 ) (Mampaso et al. 2001) and Fr 2-11. 2008). resolved shells become visible. Nova shells show both spherical and axisymmetric structures (e. 2006). Furthermore. Both He 2-428 and IPHAS PN1 are strongly bipolar nebulae with unresolved. Typically about 10−4 M⊙ of ejecta is produced (Cohen & Rosenthal 1983).csiro. 4. 4. 2010. associated with a previously unnoticed nova-like variable. 2005) and from SHS quotient imaging (Miszalski et al. Frew et al.publish. Ca II emission is commonly seen in B[e] stars. and between these objects and the B[e] and symbiotic stars. There are also two optically-emitting bowshock nebulae known to be associated with nova-like CVs. They are EGB 4 associated with BZ Cam (Ellis et al.9 Cataclysmic variable stars (CVs) This large class of variable stars includes classical and recurrent novae (Bode 2009). there may be no lower-density zones in the cores of these ‘PN’. Fr 211. usually a low-mass.

Jacoby 2006). showing that they largely overlap with PN and are separated from the symbiotic stars. e. Saha & Danielson 1988) or spectroscopy. Therefore.g. Blair & Kirshner 1985. closer emission-line galaxies at z = 0. for additional details). as do [O ii] emitters at z = 0. M 1-92 (Mikolajewski.12 Plate defects and flaws Many examples of emulsion and processing defects are present on Schmidt plates and films (see Parker et al. Raga et al. Wallace. 2008). Hb 12 is another interesting case. Since optical emission-line ratios are the most widely utilised at the present time. A number of entries in the Abell (1966) catalogue were only visible on the POSS red plate. we note that the overlap of properties between symbiotics and both pre-PN and compact PN means that taxonomic classification can be arbitrary. However. the situation becomes more complex when compact or pseudo-stellar PN are considered. but these can generally be eliminated on other grounds.g. where the lack of spectral resolution may preclude an extragalactic identification for low redshift examples. 1988. distant emission-line galaxies can contaminate on-band/off-band [O iii] surveys for PN in galaxies in and beyond the Local Group (Jacoby 2006). and a good density indicator at the densities characteristic of symbiotics. Riesgo & L´ opez 2006. TorresPeimbert & Georgiev 2005). For example. 2009) have utilised various diagnostic plots combining IPHAS and 2MASS colours. Ramanscattered O vi emission lines at λλ6825. Acker. Another example of a plate flaw on the POSS is K 2-4. Comparison of first and second epoch plates can generally eliminate these flaws easily. Kewley et al. 2000. Riera. Phillips & Mampaso 1990. with properties intermediate between symbiotics and PN (Kwok & Hsia 2007. Several galaxy sub-types have strong Balmer and forbidden emission lines.g. Arrieta. have been shown to be bona fide PN (e. Kniazev. a few caveats relevant to 4. 2009). Corradi et al. Rarely. has confirmed their identity as galaxies. when such objects have detections across all wavebands. Mention must be again made of the IRAS two-colour diagram (e. diagnostic diagrams using these ratios can help differentiate true PN from most symbiotic stars. 2004. Sabbadin. Santander-Garcia. Zucker & Grebel 2000.and high-excitation symbiotic stars. This latter object may possibly be a symbiotic outflow. PHR J0950-5223 (Figure 3). SNRs and other objects (e. Abell 17 and Abell 32. Fesen. Conversely. 5 Diagnostic Tools Since >90% of PN have been discovered in the optical domain. there were five emission-line galaxies in the preliminary MASH list until confirmatory spectroscopy revealed their redshifts. Kewley & Dopita 2002. 2001. Riesgo-Tirado & L´ opez 2002. there is a continuum of observable properties from the symbiotic star CH Cygni through MWC 560 (V694 Mon) to the putative pre-PN. S-type and D-type symbiotic stars can be further differentiated using the strengths of the HeI emission lines (Proga.g. Pustilnik & Zucker 2008. In general. the true identity of a PN candidate is less obvious. 2006. and references therein). Minello & Bianchini 1977. Be stars. Cant´ o 1981.g. However. There is also a rich literature concerning diagnostic plots and abundance determinations of extragalactic HII regions and active galactic nuclei (Veilleux & Osterbrock 1987. The symbiotic stars for example have a considerable overlap with PN spectroscopically. and post-AGB and AGB stars. Makarov. z = 3.34. Pottasch et al. Kennicutt et al.g. Schmeja & Kimeswenger (2001) have used DENIS near-IR colour-colour plots to differentiate symbiotic stars (including those with resolved outflows) from compact PN. K. . diagnostic diagrams using a range of emission-line intensities are useful for differentiating resolved emission sources such as PN from H ii regions. Lastly. 4.11 Galaxies Low-surface brightness (LSB) dwarf galaxies have been confused with evolved PN in the past on morphological criteria alone. This ratio is a good temperature indicator at densities typical of PN. as well as compact PN. van der Veen & Habing 1988.g.1 falls in the bandpass of [O iii] λ5007 interference filters. classed as possible PN by Henize (1967). Similar plots utilizing MSX data have been devised by Ortiz et al. Hodge. priv. He 2-10 (Figure 1) and IC 4662. Deep imaging (occasionally resolving the stellar population. However. comm. A few emission-line galaxies appeared in the early PN catalogues (e. Phillips & Guzman 1998. since symbiotic cores are generally denser than even the youngest PN.). G´ orny et al. pre-PN.12 Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia may prove to be of this type after a detailed investigation of their ionizing stars and surrounding nebulae. Moreno & Cort´es (1995) have used the [O iii] λ4363/λ5007 ratio to separate PN from medium. 2006.g.g. which helps to effectively differentiate symbiotic stars from both normal stars and other Hα point-source emitters. including T Tauri stars. Additionally. Stenholm & V´eron 1991). Lyα emission from starbust galaxies at redshift. discussed by Lutz & Kaler (1983). a few candidate LSB galaxies. (2005). Su´ arez et al. and are potentially confused with PN on objective prism plates. Hoessel. and some of these have turned out to be flaws (e. (2008. 2006) for classifying PN of various types. Mikolajewska & Tomov 1996. Guti´errez-Moreno. Corradi & Mampaso (2009) have added pre-PN to this plot. Schmid 1989). Vaytet et al. are now known to be nearby starburst dwarf galaxies. Karachentsev & Burenkov 2003). when only a single epoch plate is available. 7082˚ A are a very useful diagnostic for symbiotic stars when visible (e. and CVs. which detects the redshift.03 can have Hβ shifted into the filter bandpass (e. Mikolajewska & Kenyon 1994). e. we mainly discuss the principal optical diganostic plots in this review. Discussion of the diagnostic parameters for these objects falls outside the scope of this paper. especially those closer to the Galactic plane. However.

the [NII]/Hα ratio alone must be used with caution. • Type I PN (as defined by Kingsburgh & Barlow 1994) are strongly enriched in nitrogen (and often helium). as well as an investigation of the morphology. 13 supplemented with data for ∼310 metal-poor emissionline galaxies from Data Release 3 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (see Izotov et al. 2010. and scatter over a much larger area than shown on previous versions of this plot. both the [N ii]/Hα and [S ii]/Hα ratios should be investigated to better ascertain the nature of an emission nebula (e. Minello & Bianchini 1977. Based on a review of the literature. but there is considerable overlap between the fields. similar examples are also known in external galaxies (Pakull 2009) along with rare He iii regions ionized by luminous X-ray sources (e. as symbiotic stars commonly show λ4686 emission. reflecting CNO processing by the progenitor star. Readers should also be aware of VLE PN with weak or undetectable [O iii] lines. values less than 0. we note considerable overlap between domains. (2007. and has been frequently used to identify a likely SNR origin for the optical emission when [S ii]/Hα ratio exceeds 0. The strong metallicity effect is easily seen by comparing the positions of the Galactic and extragalactic H ii regions. due to differing physical conditions. and references therein). [N i] and [N ii] lines. However. 1985). as reddening errors are then minimized. spectral-line data from our MASH catalogues. the hardness of the radiation field and is also influenced by the presence of shocks. prior to a full abundance analysis (cf.4+1. Fesen et al. Note that the He ii/Hβ ratio is not a diagnostic for unresolved objects. so most are separated from ordinary H ii regions. and have line ratios that can overlap with senile SNRs.10 (not plotted) overlap with the SNR domain. and other objects are taken from an extensive unpublished database compiled from our own and literature data. we find that: • PN contain various degrees of CNO-processed gas. • Magellanic Cloud (MC) SNRs are less metal-rich than Galactic SNRs. many Galactic H ii regions fall in the enlarged PN domain. Sabbadin. • SNRs are systematically offset from the majority of PN and H ii regions. and plot systematically below the SNRs in the SMB diagram. PN are more N-rich. 2006). and references therein). These revised field boundaries are broadly consistent with PN photoionization modelling (Tajitsu et al. as well as our large unpublished database of 450 emission-line sources rejected from MASH (Parker et al. 1999). Known Type I PN were found to fall only in the bottom-left of the diagram.www. and local environment. An SNR identification is further supported by the presence of strong [O i]. their use are given here: • When calculating line ratios. • If red spectral data are available. with rare exceptions such as the He iii region G2. not previously appreciated. Note that very high excitation PN may have no measurable [N ii] or [S ii] emission. the realm of Type I objects. • In the blue. and between PN and LBV/WR ejecta nebulae. Riesgo & L´ opez 2006). between some evolved PN and SNRs. The location of H ii regions in this plot are influenced by both metallicity and excitation parameter (e. White & Filipovi´c (2008. The detection of He ii λ4686 is a quite robust PN marker for resolved nebulae. especially between H ii regions and low-excitation PN.g. so we tentatively suggest a new domain. and systematically plot above their Galactic counterparts. Rosado & Kwitter 1982). [O ii]. WR shells.g. Very old SNRs have optically emitting filaments that are dominated by swept-up ISM. Viironen et al. In general. to be analysed in full at a later date. A few old interacting PN are travelling a similar speeds through the ISM. the [N ii]/Hα ratio in a photoionized nebula is sensitive to the nitrogen abundance. . though there is some overlap as signatures of shocks are sometimes found in PN and H ii regions.g. Pakull & Angebault 1986. see also Rappaport et al. Line fluxes for LMC SNRs have been mainly taken from Payne. 2007). it is best to use lines of similar wavelengths. As a result of our extensive compendium of flux data for many different classes of emission-line sources. as well as some symbiotic and [Be] outflows. central star characteristics. 1994). we offer a substantially revised and updated log F(Hα/[N ii]) versus log F(Hα/[S ii]) (SMB) diagram as a diagnostic tool (Figure 4). Sh 2-188. The dependence of the [S ii]/Hα ratio to shock conditions is well known. In summary. SNRs. Cant´ o 1981. Jacoby & De Marco 2002).6 could be either H ii regions or PN. so other multiwavelength data. Most of the bowshock nebulae discussed in § 4. and show abundances as predicted from modelling of shocks of the order of 100 kms−1 in ISM gas (Shull & McKee 1979). in preparation).4 around the massive WO1 star WR 102.csiro. For lineflux data on extragalactic H ii regions we primarily refer to Viironen et al.5 (e.g. 1992). and with the data presented by Perinotto & Corradi (1998). PN with only red spectral data can be given a preliminary classification on the basis of this plot. • Most shock-excited Herbig-Haro objects are clearly separated from SNRs. especially for PN candidates close to the Galactic plane or in the bulge.publish. the latter sample is dominated by H ii regions in low-metallicity dwarf galaxies. the SEC (Acker et al. are needed to classify candidate high-excitation objects unambiguously. though several evolved PN have ratios that exceed this value (e. a high [O iii]/Hβ ratio is widely used as a PN diagnostic. Line fluxes for Galactic H ii regions. but beware of the many mimics with F(5007) ≥ F(Hβ) (see §4). on the whole. • If no [S ii] emission is present.

While these diagrams are useful for PN researchers (e. reflecting their composition which is dominated by swept-up local ISM. • Available time-domain photometric data to search for variability of the ionizing star. • Strength of the radio and MIR flux densities (especially useful if a constraint on the distance is available). . DENIS.e. and while PN dominate at high λ5007/Hβ ratios. bipolar symbiotic outflows are often much larger than bipolar pre-PN. Note that many symbiotic stars cannot be plotted on the SMB diagram due to the absence of detectable [S ii] emission. 1999. We list here the various criteria that are used in our classification process. they have more power in separating AGN from star-forming galaxies (Kewley et al. use a range of diagnostic plots). Miszalski et al. extremely broad Hα wings are seen in young PN.g. • Ionization structure. Tajitsu et al. which should be ≤ 5 pc but need an estimate of the distance. Frew. 6 Weeding out the impostors The ideal recipe to determine whether a candidate object is a true PN is based on a multi-wavelength approach applied to the morphological and spectroscopic characteristics of the nebula and its ionizing star. MSX and GLIMPSE data. [N ii]/Hα ≥ 6) seen in some nebulae (Corradi et al. Parker & Russeil 2006).g.14 Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia • WR shells and SNRs are largely separated in this plot. • Shklovsky (ionized) mass. These surveys offer unprecedented opportunities for discovery (e. Some of the latter overlap with the Type I PN. we examine the: • Presence of a hot (blue) CS that is relatively faint compared to the nebular flux. • Physical nebular diameter. 1998. The Galactic WR shells systematically plot below the MC WR shells. 2006). overlapping with the LBV-ejecta nebulae. • Near-IR and mid-IR colours. Figure 5 shows two versions of this plot: (a) log F (λ5007)/F (Hβ) versus log F (λ6584)/F (Hα) and (b) log F (λ5007)/F (Hβ) versus log F ([S ii])/F (Hα). • Local environment. 1997. the recent advent of major wide-area surveys from the X-ray to the radio has improved the situation considerably. We also present ‘BPT’ (Baldwin. YSOs. this is useful for identifying symbiotic stars or close-binary CSPN. This is probably due to collisional quenching of the red [S ii] lines as a result of the characteristically high densities in these objects. and so plot in the PN domain. Zickgraf 2003). and areas of heavy obscuration or dark lanes. which should be in the range 0. if known. In compact or unresolved objects. Kerber et al. 2006. many low-excitation PN populate the H ii regions of the diagrams. • Systemic velocity of nebula. in such cases. or is it irregular or otherwise pathological? • Nebular emission-line ratios. or possibly massive star ejecta.005 to 3 M⊙ . For example. T Tauri stars and HAeBe stars are usually associated with H ii regions. IRAS. and B[e] stars (Arrieta & Torres-Peimbert 2003. This was previously difficult to achieve in most cases without detailed individual follow-up. Viironen et al. • Nebular morphology: does the candidate PN have a typical shape. Planned optical surveys such as VPHAS and Skymapper in the south will add to the already impressive data sets available under the framework of the Virtual Observatory. Pustilnik & Zucker 2008). • Symbiotic stars and their resolved outflows generally plot in the PN field.g. which would indicate either a PN. Non-blue CS in regions of low extinction may be binary stars. Sabin et al. The overlap between fields is substantial. including its evolutionary age and position in the HR diagram. including the consistency of any ISM interaction with the proper-motion vector of ionizing star.g. 2009b. 2010). however. It is the online availability and federation of these massive data sets that facilitates evaluation and discrimination of object types. based on 2MASS. Parker et al. Several Galactic WR nebulae are dominated by CNO-processed ejecta from their ionizing stars. However. but again need an estimate of the distance. the exact combination depending on whether the candidate nebula is compact or extended. Phillips & Terlevich 1981) diagrams using emission-line fluxes from our database. 2008. a nova shell. symbiotic stars. We reiterate that only Type I PN can have the very strong [N ii] emission (i. and does it differ from the velocity of the ionizing star? • Line width of nebular gas: is the nebula expanding or is the line width (at FWHM) consistent with an H ii region or static ISM? Note. molecular clouds. and fresh opportunities to eliminate contaminants that have plagued previous catalogues. Kniazev. For example. reflecting very strong N-enrichment. • Properties of this ionizing star. WR shells can also have very high λ5007/Hβ ratios. that some PN can have low expanison velocities (2vexp < 20 kms−1 ). found using GALEX data) can provide evidence for a hotter ionizing star. Smith & Morse 2004). • Abundances of the nebular gas — check for products of core-He burning. Overall. a UV excess (e. with the exception of a few individual knots in very young SNRs like the Crab Nebula (MacAlpine et al. again due to metallicity — most of the larger wind-blown shells plot amongst the ordinary HII regions. using diagnostic plots where applicable (see §5). 2009a. 1996) and a handful of LBV ejecta such as the outer knots around η Carinae (e.

The empirical boundaries for the PN field are modified here. and Galactic LBV nebulae as green diamonds. based in part on new line fluxes from our unpublished database.csiro. the realm of Type I PN (as defined by Kingsburgh & Barlow 1994). (b) The same plot as (a). We also plot a new domain. Galactic H ii regions as large black squares. Galactic WR shells as orange squares. and F [Sii] refers to the sum of the two red sulfur lines at λλ6717. Cloud WR shells as open squares. Magellanic Cloud SNRs as open blue triangles. Galactic PN are plotted as red dots. . 6584˚ A. 6731˚ A. where F [Nii] refers to the sum of the two red nitrogen lines at λλ6548. symbiotic stars/outflows plotted as 15 Figure 4: (a) A revised version of the SMB or log F (Hα)/F [Nii] versus log F (Hα)/F [Sii] diagnostic diagram. showing in addition. Galactic SNRs as filled blue triangles. and extragalactic HII regions as small black squares. HH regions as asterisks.www.publish.

16 Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia Figure 5: (a) ‘BPT’ log F (5007)/Hβ versus log F (6584)/F (Hα) diagnostic diagram. Symbols as in Figure 4. (2006). (b) ‘BPT’ log F (5007)/Hβ versus log F [Sii]/F (Hα) diagnostic diagram. The curved boundaries are the classification curves from Kewley et al. . separating star-forming galaxies (dominated by H ii regions) below and left of the line. from AGN.

(2010) in this issue. We also mention here the so-called hot R CrB stars (De Marco et al. However. and only further detailed investigations (and theoretical advances) will reveal their nature. surrounded by a resolved PN-like nebula. nebulae that meet the phenomenological criteria outlined in §2) may arise from the following evolutionary channels: 1. K 1-27 is the epitome of the class. there may be problems with the standard interpretation of the born-again phenomenon. and Sakurai’s star. but most of the outer shells have near-round morphologies (Kimeswenger 17 et al. Evolution of a super-AGB star (Herwig 2005. Abell 78. and are more likely to be found away from the Galactic plane than these objects. have circumstellar nebulae but also have typical R CrB helium abundances. but there are no documented examples known. so we use the overall body of evidence which is sufficiently compelling in most cases that we are confident in our interpretation. PHL 932. where close binarity is a prerequisite (Iben & Livio 1993. and HV 2671 in the LMC have properties consistent with them being derived from a born-again evolutionary scenario. there is increasing evidence that the class itself is a ‘mixed bag’ (e. quoted by De Marco 2009. 2002). There is good evidence that these nebulae have quite distinct characteristics (Bond & Livio 1990. potentially producing an ejecta nebula around an EHB star. (2010. 2(b). but a binary evolution channel may be more likely in this object (see Hamann et al. (2009) and Smith et al. namely those systems undergoing a common-envelope (CE) phase on the AGB. Short-period interacting binaries. 2008). Abell 58.6). Miszalski et al. These authors conclude that an explosive event on a massive (6–10 M⊙ ) carbon-rich AGB/super-AGB or postAGB star is consistent with all available data. even after removal of the obvious mimics from PN catalogues. Frew 2008) and that several stellar evolutionary pathways may produce nebulae best catalogued as PN. However. a few objects refuse to be pigeonholed. Post-AGB evolution of a single star (or member of a wide. Alternatively. the outer nebulae having long since dissolved into the ISM. 5. and Mz 3. Poelarends et al. or possibly on the RGB. . which are not consistent with any post-AGB evolutionary models. The ejecta abundances are more akin to that seen in neon-rich novae! 4. The similar ([WN6]) Galactic object PM 5 (Morgan. (1999) is adopted. However. They are possibly the long-sought successors of the R CrB stars. As an illustrative example of our multiwavelength approach. De Marco 2009). but for a rebuttal. a very small collective of only four stars. Two galactic • Galactic latitude. 2003 for a discussion). (2009) showed that an optical transient seen in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 300 shares many properties with some bipolar pre-PN (as well as with SN 2008S in NGC 6946). Zijlstra & Pottasch 1991) than compact H ii regions. AGB-manqu´ e evolution. Sakurai’s star). 2009b). see Frew et al. No one criterion is generally enough to define the status of a candidate nebula. (2008) suggest two possible evolutionary scenarios for the formation of these rare stars. the peculiar nebula LMC N66 surrounds a [WN4-5] star and has been suggested to be the product of a high-mass progenitor star. 2009). which host central stars exhibiting the B[e] phenomenon.g. 1989. However. a subset of which appear to be related to the family of highlycollimated bipolar nebulae like M 2-9.csiro. falling off the main locus of PN in Hα surface brightness – radius space (Frew & Parker 2006. 7 Do PN form a heterogeneous class? In Section 2. It appears that these too are a mixed bag. 2(a). this PN is very underluminous. and/or symbiotic characteristics (see §4. We note that some post-CE PN appear to contain two subdwarf stars. where the stars are without a common evolutionary history. producing a conventional or classical PN. A review of the literature indicates that PN-like nebulae (in other words. 3. and we reviewed the zoo of objects which can mimic PN in Section 4. DY Cen and MV Sgr. (2009) for contrary opinions. the O(He) stars might be peculiar post early-AGB stars. The so-called ‘born-again’ phenomenon.www. He 3-401. where a final helium flash produces a H-deficient star and surrounding H-deficient knots inside a pre-existing. but at any reasonable distance (Rauch. we suggested a working phenomenological definition for a PN. Jacoby. possibly producing a massive pre-PN. 2006. 2007). Frew & Parker 2009. Rauch et al. Wesson (2008a) found a C/O ratio of less than unity and substantial quantities of neon in the ejecta of both Abell 30 and Abell 58. Parker & Cohen 2003) also needs detailed study. On the other hand. Only a few examples are known (see Zijlstra 2002 for a review). Long-period interacting binaries. 6. Larsen 2008) represent evolved examples of the inner nebulae seen in Abell 30. K¨ oppen & Werner 1994). in this issue). which are not predicted by very late thermal pulse models. Scenarios that produce O(He) stars (Rauch. but see Gogarten et al.9). In addition. Prieto et al. non-interacting binary). V348 Sgr. Gillett et al.g. Frew 2008). SNRs and massive stars. the emission nebula around the sdB star PHL 932 is discussed in detail by Frew et al.publish. as are the formation mechanism(s) of the putative PN around the classical novae GK Per and V458 Vul (see §4. The discrepancy becomes worse if the closer distance of Ciardullo et al. old PN (e. though the exact evolution of these systems is currently unclear.g. G. e.g. Dreizler & Wolff 1998). PN have a much larger scale height (250 ± 50 pc. which may result in turn from a double-degenerate merging process (Clayton et al. It is possible that the H-deficient PN seen in the globular clusters M 22 and Fornax GC 5 (e.

Figure 6: SHS (Parker et al. only because it is surrounded by compact. surrounded by a huge. L´ opez et al. Parker & Chapman 2005). The first is He 2-111 (Figure 6). We also note a potential PN associated with the luminous OH/IR star V1018 Sco (Cohen. possibly resulting from a binary evolution channel. high density cocoon around a WR star. 2009). as well as a very faint. While preliminary. We arbitrarily group two bipolar nebulae together first because of their extreme sizes (major axes of 5–7 pc) and unknown evolutionary origins.g. However.0 kpc of the Sun (Frew 2008). point-symmetric. both EGB 6 and NGC 6804 are within 1 kpc. a Type I PN surrounded by a huge.1 Relative Numbers In summary. Moffat & Webbink 1985. V´ azquez & Rodr´ıguez 1995) which also has a vast. Image is 720′′ on a side with NE at top left. none entirely satisfactory. The other object is KjPn 8 (L´ opez. a late thermal pulse object. but it may result from shock excitation. especially in the absence of high-resolution optical imagery for some of their objects.3 (Corradi et al. for a discussion). shock-excited bipolar outflow surrounding a compact PN-like core. Within a census of 200+ PN within 2. This is a . expanding ejecta. but until the CS is identified and studied. It has been suggested in the literature to be a slow nova. point-symmetric bipolar outflow first noted by Webster (1978). rapidly expanding ‘S-shaped’ bipolar outflow (Webster 1978).55+283830. a star that is unequivocally still in its AGB phase. e. This pathway may also be applicable to He 2-111. this number is in agreement with a binary-fraction estimate of 12–21% for a sample of Galactic bulge PN (Miszalski 2009a). Hajduk et al. The potential of symbiotic nebulae to contaminate the bright end of the PNLF is also largely unknown (see Frankowski & Soker 2009. 2005) Hα+[N ii] image of He 2-111. it is difficult to ascertain the relative contributions of these various evolutionary pathways to the PN population. 2007. The merger of two main-sequence stars (Soker & Tylenda 2003. M 2-9. the status of this nebula remains unclear. solar neighbourhood sample. note that this core is very small and underluminous at the accepted distance of 1. (2000) speculate that the formation of KjPn 8 is due to two distinct and consecutive PN-like events. one PN with an O(He) nucleus (K 1-27). see also Meynadier & Heydari-Malayeri 2007). so it seems unrelated to the PN fraternity. Several ideas have been proposed for its origin. has been classified as a compact H ii region by Charmandaris. one putative PN with a [WN] CS (PM 5). we mention the old ‘nova’ CK Vul (Nova Vul 1670). Exotica. We agree that it is most likely to be a Population I massive star. and references therein). there are only one or two born-again objects (Abell 30 and Abell 78). is probably the best hypothesis in our opinion. As for the fraction of PN holding unresolved high-density cores. both have smaller putative PN within. so the fraction of EGB 6-like CS is 2/55 or ∼4%. larger bipolar emission nebula. 2007). (2009) has recently drawn attention to some radio-luminous PN candidates in the Magellanic Clouds which appear brighter than expected. but we urge caution before such a moniker is used. or a stellar merger (see Hajduk et al. but a classification as a peculiar young PN cannot be ruled out at this stage. the formation mechanism of the outer bipolar nebula remains unknown. Frew & Parker (2009) found 22 ± 9 % of CSPN are close binaries and are presumably derived from a post-CE evolutionary channel (De Marco 2009).6 kpc (Meaburn 1997). perhaps analogous to the eruptive variable V838 Mon. a peculiar He-rich emissionline star surrounded by a large 9′ ×6′ emission nebula. These authors hypothesise that the compact source may be a photoionized. one of their PN candidates. 7. HeydariMalayeri & Chatzopoulis (2008. Lastly for completeness. In fact. which appears to have a Type I chemistry. Another odd object is IPHAS J195935. and a couple of collimated bipolar outflows associated with [Be] stars. again falling way off the Hα SB-r relation (Frew & Parker 2010. in preparation). While PN in external galaxies have the advantage of being co-located at a common (and usually known) distance. but based on a volume-limited. Kato 2003). These authors tentatively call the brighter objects ‘Super PNe’.18 Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia Filipovi´c et al. This is a grab-bag of objects that defy straightforward classification. and the problem warrants further investigation. the potential for contaminants in these samples is not trivial. The origin of this ionized nebula is uncertain. SMC-N68. More work is needed to see if the bright end of the radio PN luminosity function is variable between different systems. A late-flashing AGB star seems ruled out on the basis of CK Vul’s high luminosity in outburst (MV ∼ MBol ≤ −7) at any realistic distance (Shara. 7. a young PN. The strong nitrogen enrichment suggests a massive progenitor star. a strongly N-enhanced Type I object (Perinotto & Corradi 1998).

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