Heavy elements in planetary nebulae: a theorist’s gold mine

A. Karakas (1) & M. Lugaro (2)

(1) Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Australia. (2) Centre for Stellar and Planetary Astrophysics, Monash University, Australia

Observations of planetary nebulae have revealed a gold mine of information about the composition of heavy elements synthesized by the slow neutron capture process (the s-process). In some of these nebulae the abundances of s-process elements are enriched by factors of 10 to 30 times the solar value, indicating that these elements were produced in the progenitor star while it was on the asymptotic giant branch (AGB). In this talk I summarize results of our recent full s-process network predictions covering a wide range of progenitor masses and metallicities. I will provide a comparison to observations and show how this can provide important insights into nucleosynthesis processes occurring deep within AGB stars.

Talk presented at the IAU Symposium 283, Planetary Nebulae: an Eye to the Future, 25-29 July 2011, Tenerife, Spain.

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