Recent Hα surveys such as SHS and IPHAS have improved the completeness of the Galactic planetary nebula (PN) census. We now know of ∼3000 PNe in the Galaxy, but this is far short of most estimates, typically ~25 000 or more for the total population. The size of the Galactic PN population is required to derive an accurate estimate of the chemical enrichment rates of nitrogen, carbon, and helium. In addition, a high PN count (>20 000) is strong evidence that most main-sequence stars of mass 1–8 M⊙ will go through a PN phase, while a low count (<10 000) argues that special conditions (e.g. close binary interactions) are required to form a PN. We describe a technique for finding hundreds more PNe using the existing data collections of the digital sky surveys, thereby improving the census of Galactic PNe.
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