Analyzing the Variability of Central Stars in Planetary Nebulae

Primary Submission Contact

Andrew Webb

Faculty Sponsor

Todd Hillwig

Faculty Sponsor Email Address



Arts and Sciences



Document Type

Poster Presentation


Fall 10-30-2015


Close binary central stars are found at the center of about 10-15% of all planetary nebulae. These close binary systems’ light varies over time, due to different interactions between the two stars. The physical interaction of these close binary stars could have an effect on the shaping of the planetary nebulae around them. Analysis of light variability and spectroscopy of these close binary stars can lead to determining physical characteristics of the stars through modeling of the system, and help to confirm whether or not binary central stars are the cause of the observed structures. Here I focus on the planetary nebula Hartl-Tritton 7 (HaTr 7). Multiple spectra and images have been taken of its central star, confirming that it is a close binary. Computer modeling of the HaTr 7 central binary system is underway with the goal of linking its characteristics to the shape and physical characteristics of the HaTr 7 planetary nebula.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Dr. Todd Hillwig, who received his PhD in Astronomy at Indiana University, is a professor a part of the Physics and Astronomy Department at Valparaiso University. He does his research in astronomy during the summer and throughout the academic year. Within the field of astronomy research, his research is focused primarily on the analysis of planetary nebulae, or large post-star cloudy remnants found deep in space. This analysis includes the monitoring of central stars within these planetary nebulae, and the shaping the planetary nebulae themselves have.

Andrew Webb is a current sophomore undergraduate student at Valparaiso University. He was hired by Dr. Hillwig over the summer of 2015 to help with Dr. Hillwig's astronomy research.

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