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Binary stars as the key to understand planetary nebulae

Dr. Henri M. J. Boffin
ESO, Garching

May 17th, 2018


Binarity and mass transfer appear to play a key role in the shaping and, most likely, in the formation of planetary nebulae (PNe), thereby explaining the large fraction of axisymmetric morphologies. I present the binary hypothesis for PNe and its current status. Recent discoveries have led to a dramatic increase in the number of post-common envelope binary central stars of PNe, thereby allowing us to envisage statistical studies. Moreover, these binary systems let us study in detail the mass transfer episodes before and after the common envelope, and I present the evidences for mass transfer - and accretion - prior to the common envelope phase.