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Chemical abundances and dust in planetary nebulae in the Galactic bulge

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  • Chemistry
  • Physics


We present mid-infrared Spitzer spectra of 11 planetary nebulae in the Galactic bulge. We derive argon, neon, sulfur, and oxygen abundances for them using mainly infrared line fluxes combined with some optical line fluxes from the literature. Due to the high extinction toward the bulge, the infrared spectra allow us to determine abundances for certain elements more accurately than previously possible with optical data alone. Abundances of argon and sulfur (and in most cases neon and oxygen) in planetary nebulae in the bulge give the abundances of the interstellar medium at the time their progenitor stars formed; thus, these abundances give information about the formation and evolution of the bulge. The abundances of bulge planetary nebulae tend to be slightly higher than those in the disk on average, but they do not follow the trend of the disk planetary nebulae, thus confirming the difference between bulge and disk evolution. In addition, the bulge planetary nebulae showpeculiar dust properties compared to the disk nebulae. Oxygen-rich dust features (crystalline silicates) dominate the spectra of all of the bulge planetary nebulae; such features are more scarce in disk nebulae. In addition, carbon-rich dust features (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) appear in roughly half of the bulge planetary nebulae in our sample, which is interesting in light of the fact that this dual chemistry is comparatively rare in the Milky Way as a whole.

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