Searching for Companion Stars to Planetary Nebula Central Stars Using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

Faculty Sponsor

Todd Hillwig


Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-2-2015


When a star like our Sun dies, it swells into a red giant and then expels its outer layers to form a planetary nebula surrounding the remaining core of the star. The outer layers then disperse into space leaving the core of the star behind as a white dwarf. The cause of the many exotic shapes in planetary nebulae is unknown. However, it is thought that binary stars may play a role in the shaping process. In this project, we are searching for binary central stars in planetary nebulae by near-infrared spectral analysis to detect cool companion stars. A companion can also be detected from Doppler Shifts due to orbital motion. In addition, spectral analysis gives us the stellar temperatures, narrowing the possible parameter space for future modeling of any detected binary systems.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Hannah Rotter is a senior physics major at Valparaiso University. She has participated in summer research in astronomy for the past three summers and is expanding on her previous research in her senior research project. She hopes to continue research in astronomy and astrophysics in grad school.

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