Planetary nebulae represent a transitory stage in the life of the majority of stars as they proceed towards the end of their nuclear evolution and descend to the domain of white dwarfs. The immediate precursors of the central stars are probably red giants which populate a part of the HR diagram far removed from the region inhabited by the central stars of well recognised nebulae. The problem of determining the initial masses is complicated by the widespread occurrence of massloss on the red giant branch. The total amount of mass lost by a star must depend upon a number of stellar parameters including the initial mass, but the exact nature of this dependence remains to be discovered and a unique relation between the final masses and initial main sequence masses is not yet available. Thus even though the mass distribution of the nuclei of planetary nebulae (NPN) has been derived in the last few years, it has not been possible to deduce from this an unambiguous initial mass distribution of the progenitors. Further, an observed sample always suffers from selection effects and, in the particular case of NPN mass distribution, this has led to irretrievable loss of information.
KeywordsMain Sequence Central Star Planetary Nebula Main Sequence Star Common Envelope
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