Helium Abundances in Gaseous Nebulae

  • R. E. S. Clegg
  • J. P. Harrington
Conference paper
Part of the International Astronomical Union / Union Astronomique Internationale book series (IAUS, volume 131)


New collision strengths, from a 19-state quantum calculation for He I, are used to derive revised He/H ratios in planetary nebulae (PN). Empirical formulae are given, for the correction of He I recombination line fluxes for collisional effects, and for the calculation of the population of metastable helium (He I 23S) in gaseous nebulae. The revised He abundances for PN, for four samples of published line fluxes, show a mean ratio He/H = 0.100 ±0.007 if nebulae with neutral He and Type I PN are excluded. The mean reduction due to collisional effects is only 10% for Galactic PN. It is shown that the hypothesis, that He/H should be independent of nebular temperature and density, is better satisfied when collisional effects are allowed for. The new He abundances indicate that there is very little He enrichment in Galactic PN of Types II, III, and IV, and that the enhancement of Type I PN in He over H II regions is reduced from earlier values by one third.


Empirical Formula Optical Depth Line Flux Planetary Nebula Recombination Line 
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Copyright information

© International Astronomical Union 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. E. S. Clegg
    • 1
  • J. P. Harrington
    • 2
  1. 1.University College LondonUK
  2. 2.University of MarylandUSA

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