We analyze the dependence of circumstellar extinction on core mass for the brightest planetary nebulae (PNs) in the Magellanic Clouds and M31. We show that in all three galaxies, a statistically significant correlation exists between the two quantities, such that high-core mass objects have greater extinction. We model this behavior and show that the relation is a simple consequence of the greater mass loss and faster evolution times of high-mass stars. The relation is important because it provides a natural explanation for the invariance of the [O III] λ5007 planetary nebula luminosity function (PNLF) with population age: bright Population I PNs are extinguished below the cutoff of the PNLF. It also explains the counter-intuitive observation that intrinsically luminous Population I PNs often appear fainter than PNs from older, low-mass progenitors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science