Nav: Home

Radio astronomers peer deep into the stellar nursery of the Orion Nebula

June 15, 2017

TORONTO - Astronomers have released an image of a vast filament of star-forming gas, 1200 light-years away, in the stellar nursery of the Orion Nebula.

The image shows ammonia molecules within a 50-light-year long filament detected through radio observations made with the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. That image is combined with an image of the Orion Nebula--an object familiar to amateur and professional astronomers alike--taken with NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explore (WISE) telescope.

"We still don't understand in detail how large clouds of gas in our Galaxy collapse to form new stars," says Rachel Friesen, one of the collaboration's co-Principal Investigators and, until 31 May 2017, a Dunlap Fellow at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto.

"But ammonia is an excellent tracer of dense, star-forming gas," says Friesen, "and these large ammonia maps will allow us to track the motions and temperature of the densest gas. This is critical to assessing whether gas clouds and filaments are stable, or are undergoing collapse on their way to forming new stars."

The image accompanies the first release of results from the collaboration's Green Bank Ammonia Survey (GAS), published in the Astrophysical Journal. The collaboration's other co-Principal Investigator is Jaime Pineda, from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics; the team also includes astronomers from the University of Toronto's Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics.

The goal of GAS is to survey all the major, nearby star-forming regions in the northern half of the Gould Belt -- a ring of young stars and gas clouds that circles the entire sky and runs through the constellation Orion. The survey will eventually provide a clearer picture over a larger portion of the sky of the temperatures and motions of gas within these dynamic stellar nurseries.

Additional notes:

1) The first GAS data release includes data from observations of four Gould Belt clouds: B18 in the constellation Taurus; NGC 1333 in Perseus; L1688 in Ophiuchus; and Orion A North in Orion.

2) The 100-metre Green Bank Telescope is located in the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 34 thousand square kilometre area in which radio transmissions are tightly restricted. The Green Bank Observatory (GBO) is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under a cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.
-end-
The Green Bank Ammonia Survey (GAS): First Results of NH3 Mapping the Gould Belt: https://arxiv.org/abs/1704.06318

Contact:

Rachel Friesen
Dunlap Fellow
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto
e: friesen@dunlap.utoronto.ca

Chris Sasaki
Communications Coordinator | Press Officer
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto
p: 416-978-6613
e: csasaki@dunlap.utoronto.ca
w: dunlap.utoronto.ca

The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto is an endowed research institute with over 70 faculty, postdocs, students and staff, dedicated to innovative technology, ground-breaking research, world-class training, and public engagement. The research themes of its faculty and Dunlap Fellows span the Universe and include: optical, infrared and radio instrumentation; Dark Energy; large-scale structure; the Cosmic Microwave Background; the interstellar medium; galaxy evolution; cosmic magnetism; and time-domain science.

The Dunlap Institute, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, and Centre for Planetary Sciences comprise the leading centre for astronomical research in Canada, at the leading research university in the country, the University of Toronto.

The Dunlap Institute is committed to making its science, training and public outreach activities productive and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, nationality or religion.

Text & Images:

http://www.dunlap.utoronto.ca/radio-astronomers-peer-deep-into-the-stellar-nursery-of-the-orion-nebula Password: GAS_NH3

Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related Astronomers Articles:

Astronomers unveil 'heart' of Eta Carinae
An international team of astronomers has imaged the Eta Carinae star system -- a colossal binary system that consists of two massive stars orbiting each other -- including a region between the two stars in which extremely high-velocity stellar winds are colliding.
Astronomers capture best view ever of disintegrating comet
Astronomers have captured the sharpest, most detailed observations of a comet breaking apart 67 million miles from Earth, using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
Astronomers find the first 'wind nebula' around a magnetar
Astronomers have discovered a vast cloud of high-energy particles called a wind nebula around a rare ultra-magnetic neutron star, or magnetar, for the first time.
Astronomers discover 'young Jupiter' exoplanet
The first planet detected by the Gemini Planet Imager is 100 light-years away but shares many of the characteristics of an early Jupiter.
Astronomers discover 'young Jupiter' exoplanet
A team of astronomers that includes University of Georgia professor Inseok Song has discovered a Jupiter-like planet within a young star system that could serve as a decoder ring for understanding how planets formed around the sun.
Astronomers discover 'young Jupiter' exoplanet
An international team of scientists that includes Travis Barman and Katie Morzinski from the University of Arizona has discovered a new exoplanet using the latest planet-hunting tool, the Gemini Planet Imager.
Astronomers discover 'young Jupiter' exoplanet
Astronomers have discovered a Jupiter-like planet within a young system that could serve as a decoder ring for understanding how planets formed around our sun.
Astronomers discover 'young Jupiter' exoplanet
Discovery of a Jupiter-like planet within a young system that could serve as a decoder ring for understanding how planets formed around our Sun.
Astronomers explain why a star is so hot right now
Astronomers have solved a mystery over small, unusually hot blue stars, 10 times hotter than our Sun, that are found in the middle of dense star clusters.
Astronomers unveil the farthest galaxy
An international team of astronomers led by Yale University and the University of California-Santa Cruz have pushed back the cosmic frontier of galaxy exploration to a time when the universe was only 5 percent of its present age.

Related Astronomers Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#518 With Genetic Knowledge Comes the Need for Counselling
This week we delve into genetic testing - for yourself and your future children. We speak with Jane Tiller, lawyer and genetic counsellor, about genetic tests that are available to the public, and what to do with the results of these tests. And we talk with Noam Shomron, associate professor at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, about technological advancements his lab has made in the genetic testing of fetuses.