Asymmetry and inhomogeneity in proto- and young planetary nebulae


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I study some effects of aspherical mass loss during the last stages of the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) on the appearance of proto-planetary nebulae (proto-PNs) and young PNs. The aspherical mass loss can be small-scale inhomogeneities, and/or axially symmetric mass-loss geometry. I first examine the role of the dust opacity in the optical band on the appearance of proto-PNs. I conclude that large optical depths will be found in proto-PNs that are post-AGB stars having high equatorial mass-loss rates, which require a stellar binary companion for their existence. In these cases light from the central star will reach larger distances along and near the polar directions, leading to the appearance of an elongated reflection nebula. These proto-PNs will become bipolar PNs, i.e., PNs with two lobes and an equatorial waist between them, or extreme ellipticals, e.g., a ring but no lobes on the two sides of the equatorial plane. I then derive the conditions for the enhancement of non-radial density inhomogeneity by the propagation of the ionization front at the early PN stages. The ionization will proceed faster in the radial direction along low-density regions. The low-density regions will be heated earlier, and they will expand as a result of their higher pressures, reducing further their densities. The opposite occurs in high-density regions. The condition for this ionization instability to develop is that the ionization time difference between two directions at the same radius is longer than the sound crossing time between these two regions. This condition for the ionization front instability can be expressed as a condition on the mass-loss rate inhomogeneity, i.e., its dependence on direction.