Planetary nebulae (PNe) represent the late stages of low-mass stellar evolution. The formation of the myriad of PNe morphologies involves processes that are present in many other astrophysical systems such as the wind-blown bubbles of massive stars. In this dissertation we present the result of an X-ray study of PNe, and two modeling projects that incorporate the resulting data with the goal of furthering our understanding of their X-ray properties and morphologies, and the 3D multiwavelength structure of PNe. This work expands the Chandra Planetary Nebula Survey (ChanPlaNS), which was designed to investigate X-ray emission from PNe, frm 35 to 59 objects. The results from Cycle 14 Chandra observations of 24 PNe brought the overall ChanPlaNS diffuse X-ray detection rate to ~27% and the point source detection rate to ~36%. The detection of diffuse X-ray emission is unmistakably associated with young (<~5 x 10³ yr), compact (Rneb <~0.15 pc) PNe that exhibit closed elliptical structures and high electron densities (ne >~ 10³ cm⁻³). Utilizing the ChanPlaNS data for 14 PNe that exhibit diffuse X-ray emission, we constructed simple, spherically symmetric two-phase models using the astrophysical modeling tool, SHAPE. Our models consisted of a hot bubble and swept-up shell with the intent of investigating th X-ray morphology of these objects and the extinction caused by the swept-up shell. We compared simulated and observed radial profiles and we conclude that while most (~79%) PNe are best described by a limb-darkened X-ray morphology, this is due to nebular extinction of an intrinsically limb-brightened hot bubble structure. Expanding upon our two-phase model, we used SHAPE to generate a 3D model of the brightest diffuse X-ray PN, BD+30°3639, with the model constrained by previously published multiwavelength data extending from the radio to the X-ray regimes. Our aim was to investigate the multiwavelength 3D morphology of this well-studied nebula and draw connections with other PNe. We interpreted kinematic and observational data to best fit our model with observations and found that the inherent structure shares similarities with several other PNe, suggesting a common evolutionary path.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Planetary nebulae--Mathematical models

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


Joel H. Kastner

Advisor/Committee Member

Andrew Robinson

Advisor/Committee Member

Adam Frank


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at QB855.5 .F74 2015


RIT – Main Campus

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