FLIERs and other microstructures in planetary nebulae. IV. Images of elliptical PNs from the Hubble space telescope.
BALICK B., ALEXANDER J., HAJIAN A.R., TERZIAN Y., PERINOTTO M. and PATRIARCHI P.
Abstract (from CDS):
We report new results from high spatial resolution Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 imaging studies of ``FLIERs'' and other microstructures in the planetary nebulae NGC 3242, 6826, 7009, and 7662. Most FLIERs have head-tail morphologies, with the tails pointing outward from the nucleus. Ionization gradients that decrease with distance from the nebular center are ubiquitous. These are consistent with an ionization front in neutral knots of density ~104 cm–3. Can neutral knots account for the properties of FLIERs? We compare two broad classes of possible explanations for FLIERs with the new images: high-speed bullets ramming through the shells of planetary nebulae, and photoevaporated gas swept by winds into head-tail shapes. Both classes of models fail basic consistency tests. Hence an entirely new conceptual paradigm is needed to account for the phenomenology of FLIERs.