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Title: Carbon Isotope Ratios in Planetary Nebulae: The Unexpected Enhancement of 13C
The 12C/13C ratio has been measured toward a sample of planetary nebulae (PNe) using millimeter observations of CO, HCN, HNC, CN, and other species, conducted with the 12 m antenna and the Submillimeter Telescope of the Arizona Radio Observatory. The observed nebulae spanned the entire lifetime of PNe, from ∼900 to 12,000 yr, and include well-known objects such as NGC 7293 (Helix), NGC 6720 (Ring), and NGC 2440, as well as relatively unexplored nebulae (M3–28, M2–48, and M3–55). In most cases, multiple molecules and transitions were used in the ratio determination, resulting in the most accurate values available to date, with 10%–40% uncertainties. The ratios found were unexpectedly low, lying in the range 12C/13C ∼1.0 ± 0.7–13.2 ± 4.9, with an average value of 3.7—drastically less than found in the envelopes of C-rich AGB stars, and, in some cases, lower than the minimum value achieved in equilibrium CNO burning. Such low values are expected for the two O-rich nebulae studied (M2–9 and M2–48), because of insufficient third dredge-up events. However, most of the PNe observed were clearly carbon-rich, as deduced from the large number of C-bearing molecules present in them. Because nucleosynthesis ceases in the PN stage, both the C/O and the more » 12C/13C ratios must reflect abundances at the end of the AGB. These consistently low 12C/13C ratios, combined with the bipolar/multipolar morphologies of all planetary nebulae observed, suggest an explosive process involving proton-capture occurred at the AGB–PN transition. « less
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National Science Foundation
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