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Planetary nebulae as tracers of stellar population properties: unlocking their potential with integral-field spectroscopy

Ana EnnisJohanna HartkeMagda ArnaboldiClaudia PulsoniFuyan BianChiara Spiniello
Nov 2023
Planetary nebulae (PNe) are essential tracers of the kinematics of the diffuse halo and intracluster light where stellar spectroscopy is unfeasible, due to their strong emission lines. However, that is not all they can reveal about the underlying stellar population. In recent years, it has also been found that PNe in the metal-poor halos of galaxies have different properties (specific frequency, luminosity function), than PNe in the more metal-rich galaxy centers. A more quantitative understanding of the role of age and metallicity in these relations would turn PNe into valuable stellar-population tracers. In order to do that, a full characterization of PNe in regions where the stellar light can also be analysed in detail is necessary. In this work, we make use of integral-field spectroscopic data covering the central regions of galaxies, which allow us to measure both stellar ages and metallicities as well as to detect PNe. This analysis is fundamental to calibrate PNe as stellar population tracers and to push our understanding of galaxy properties at unprecedented galactocentric distances.
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