The Egg Nebula (AFGL 2688): Deepening Enigma
This is the pre-print of a paper published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The final, published version is available here: http://www.aspbooks.org/a/volumes/article_details/?paper_id=1983
© 2004 Astronomical Society of the Pacific
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Recent observations of the Egg Nebula (AFGL 2688), obtained at ever-increasing spatial and spectral resolution, have revealed a perplexing array of phenomena. Many of these phenomena present challenges to our understanding of this object as an emerging, bipolar planetary nebula. Here, we consider two particularly intriguing aspects of the Egg: the peculiar structure and kinematics of its equatorial regions, and the nature of an apparent widely separated companion to the central star. In the first case, we use recently acquired Hubble Space Telescope images to demonstrate that the H2 emission distributed east and west of the central star is spatially coincident with a dusty, equatorial disk or torus. The H2 is thus constrained to lie near the equatorial plane, casting doubt on pure radial outflow models for the equatorial kinematics. In the second case, we show that the apparent companion (“Peak A”) may be an accreting white dwarf that has undergone one or more thermonuclear bursts.