Printer Friendly

The strings at the heart of Orion.

The strings at the heart of Orion

Riverting even to the eye, the Orion nebula also bewitches astronomers who observe this star-forming region at radio wave-lengths. Penetrating the heart of the dusty nebula with the Very Large Array radiotelescope near Socorro, N.M., Farhad Yusef-Zadeh has discovered that Orion's center contains a surprising networks of arcs and filaments, some of which extend about 1.5 light-years in length. Such large structures have not been found in other starforming regions, notes Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

He suggests two possible explanations for the unusual string-like features that surround a cluster of bright stars, known as Trapezium, at Orion's center. The first scenario attributes the pattern to powerful collisions occuring when hot gas rushes out of the stars and zips through surrounding layers of cooler, denser gas. This stellar "wind" creates a shock wave that pushes aside cooler interstellar gas, creating cavities where the material once resided and filaments where the material now congregates. Alternatively, Yusef-Zadeh speculates, ultraviolet radiation from the stars may ionize surrounding gas that then expands to form the radio-emitting filaments.

If further studies confirm the role of stellar winds in flament creation, researchers may need to take wind phenomena more seriously when constructing theories about the early evolution of hot, massive stars and their surroundings, Yusef-Zadeh says. At an astronomically close 1,500 light-years from Earth, "Orion is a fantastic place to examine our thoughts [about star formation]," he notes. The astronomer details his work in the Sept. 20 ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:nebula
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 20, 1990
Previous Article:Elusive amylin: a perplexing protein may muddle insulin's message.
Next Article:Hydrogen clouds colder than expected.

Related Articles
The Orion Nebula's bright new image.
Gamma rays from the Crab nebula.
Hubble telescope depicts Orion's edge.
'Hot spots' predict breast cancer's return.
Peering into Orion nebula's stellar nursery.
Have scientists seen planets in the making?
The Orion Nebula: Where Stars Are Born.
Planet potential.
Peeling back Orion's layers: astronomers unveil a portrait of star formation.
Peeling back Orion's layers: astronomers unveil a portrait of star formation.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters