SpectroCam-10 Orion Nebula

SpectroCam-10 Images of Regions of Star Formation

Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is just visible to the naked eye as the "sword" under Orion's belt. It is 450 pc, or about 1500 light years, from the earth, and is the closest star formation site that contains young stars much more massive and luminous than our sun. At the center of the nebula is a cluster of four stars called the Trapezium. The brightest star in the Trapezium, known as Theta 1 Orionis C, is a very hot 39,000 Kelvin, and is the source of most of the UV radiation which causes the nebula to glow. The Trapezium stars and many other stars in the region formed out of a surrounding cloud of dust and gas only a few million years ago.

Here is a very cool wide-field near-infrared image of Orion from the 2MASS home page . (Note that the scale and orientation are much different than those of the following images.)

Ney-Allen Nebula

This image shows the Trapezium region at 11.7 microns as seen by SpectroCam-10. At this wavelength we see the infrared "Ney-Allen" nebula. Most of the emission is from dust grains at 250-300 Kelvin (about room temperature). Our image shows that dust exists in both diffuse clouds and concentrated clumps. Many of the clumps correspond to the proto-planetary disk sources recently imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope, and could represent the dusty component of disks around newly-formed stars. The dust grains are heated partly by Theta 1 Orionis C, which is just barely visible about 1/3 of the way from the center to the upper right corner of the image.

Kleinmann-Low Nebula

The Kleinmann-Low Nebula (or KL) is a cluster of stars, presumably even younger than the Trapezium stars, which is still embedded so deeply in the gas and dust out of which it formed that it is only visible at infrared and radio wavelengths. In fact, these objects are so young that they may be still evolving to the point of becoming true hydrogen burning stars.

The two images below were made at 11.7 and 17.9 microns wavelength. The brightest source at 11.7 microns is the famous Becklin-Neugebauer object. We are studying these images to determine the number of fainter sources in the KL cluster.

11.7 microns

17.9 microns