The shell of the Orion Nebula is leaking gas and dust from a newly discovered rift

The Orion Nebula, a known star-forming region in the constellation of Orion, appears to be spewing gas and dust from a tear in its shell of gas detected by NASA’s SOFIA flying telescope.

This expanding shell, known as the Orion Veil, is caused by the winds that blow from a massive group of stars inside a nebula called the Trapezius Cluster. According to the statement, the winds mix dust and gas, creating a bubble around the nebula, which expands towards Earth. (will open in a new tab) from the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

Using the Airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) — a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) — the researchers found a bulge jutting out into space from the northwestern part of the veil. The protrusion gave the impression that the shell had been pierced, allowing gas and dust to escape.

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“The bubble – about seven light-years in diameter – should be a nearly spherical structure, but we found a bulge in its northwestern part,” Yumit Kavak, lead author of the study and member of the SOFIA team based in NASA’s Ames Research Center, said in a statement. in Silicon Valley in California. “When you break through the Veil’s shell, you actually begin to mix the cosmic soup of gas and dust, adding turbulence.”

The German-built SOFIA REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) instrument detected emissions of ionized carbon emanating from the bulge, which the researchers used to measure the size, structure and expansion of the Orion Veil shell. According to the researchers, these data will provide new insights into the origin of the Orion Veil and its fate.

“It’s not the most appetizing soup, but it’s one way to form new stars or limit future star formation,” Alexander Tilens, co-author of the study at Leiden University, said in a statement.

Streams of ionized carbon seeping into space affect the density, temperature and chemical composition of the surrounding area. This, in turn, could lead to the creation or destruction of new stars in the Orion Nebula.

Their findings were published on April 22. (will open in a new tab) in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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