AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 14. Proto-Planetary Nebulae
Display, Wednesday, January 6, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall 1

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[14.03] Hubble Space Telescope Imaging of the Proto-Planetary Nebula M2-56

S. R. Trammell (UNC-Charlotte), R. W. Goodrich (Keck Obs.)

We present narrow-band WFPC2 images of the proto-planetary nebula M2-56. This object is a compact, bipolar nebula that is currently undergoing the transition from AGB star to planetary nebula. Shock emission dominates the optical line spectrum of the bipolar lobes of M2-56 and shocks probably play an important role in its dynamic evolution. This shock emission is an excellent tracer of on-going mass loss in this object and affords a powerful probe into the characteristics of the mass loss occurring during the transition from giant star to planetary nebula.

We have obtained optical images through filters isolating H\alpha and [S II] emission lines, both of which trace the shock emission in this object. The morphology in these bands is similar. We resolve the object into two lobes of emission and clearly see the central object for the first time. The edges of the bipolar lobes are outlined by bright clumps of emission. A faint bubble of emission is evident extending beyond the main bipolar lobe structure. We discuss possible explanations of the observed morphology and the origin of the shock emission seen in this object based on current models of planetary nebula formation.

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