The inside-out planetary nebula around a born-again star

Guerrero, Martin A.; Fang, Xuan; Miller Bertolami, Marcelo M.; Ramos-Larios, Gerardo; Todt, Helge; Alarie, Alexandre; Sabin, Laurence; Miranda, Luis F.; Morisset, Christophe; Kehrig, Carolina; Zavala, Saul A

Planetary nebulae are ionized clouds of gas formed by the hydrogen-rich envelopes of low- and intermediate-mass stars ejected at late evolutionary stages. The strong UV flux from their central stars causes a highly stratified ionization structure, with species of higher ionization potential closer to the star. Here we report on the exceptional case of HuBi 1, a double-shell planetary nebula whose inner shell presents emission from low-ionization species close to the star and emission from high-ionization species farther away. Spectral analysis demonstrates that the inner shell of HuBi 1 is excited by shocks, whereas its outer shell is recombining. The anomalous excitation of these shells can be traced to its low-temperature [WC10] central star whose optical brightness has declined continuously by 10 magnitudes in a period of 46 years. Evolutionary models reveal that this star is the descendent of a low-mass star (about 1.1 Msun) that has experienced a born-again event whose ejecta shock-excite the inner shell. HuBi 1 represents the missing link in the formation of metal-rich central stars of planetary nebulae from low-mass progenitors, offering unique insight regarding the future evolution of the born-again Sakurai's object. Coming from a solar-mass progenitor, HuBi 1 represents a potential end-state for our Sun.

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