The Orion Nebula in the eyes of the James-Webb Telescope for the first time

A Franco-Canadian team was able to examine the Orion Nebula using the eyes of the James-Webb Space Telescope. The images are majestic and rich in information for researchers who continue to study them.

The Orion Nebula is a vast complex of gasgas and dust spread on Milky WayMilky Way for only 1,300 light yearslight years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation of the eponymous great hunter. This is almost the closest star-forming region to ours, accessible to anyone with a refractor or telescope. It is even possible through binoculars to identify its brightest part, where the stars of the Trapezium cluster are camped. The latter is a asterismasterism whose name comes from its evocative geometric shape drawn by the brightest stars. The generality is predictableeyeeye naked at the level of the dagger than the giant gatesgates in his belt. You can take the test at night FALLFALLafter the rising of Orion (in the countryside, far from light pollutionlight pollution).

burning stars

In these first images of the Orion Nebula (also called Messier 42, or M42) taken by James-Webb, the two brightest stars in front of the WALLWALL of gas called “Orion’s bar” belongs to the Trapezium cluster. They were born there, only about 300,000 years ago, according to a study. Hot, big, they are overflowingstrengthstrengthand their violent radiation repainted the entire surrounding landscape, splitting and corrupting it.

All that thingsthings gathered in this region of the Milky Way is therefore burdened by its most zealous children. Radiation ultravioletultraviolet shining from a star named θ 2Orionis A, as you can see, hit the wall of gas, thus changing its structure dramatically. Dense networks of filaments resist teasing the burning stars of the Trapezium longer, while thin ones are easily swept away. The massive members of the cluster are out of focus in this composite image (above, and annotated below), and their radiation reaches the other side of the gas wall. These stars have cleared their way into the great CLOUDCLOUD molecular, excavating a large hole visible in the Orion Nebula, as clearly seen in photographs taken by HubbleHubble (picture below).

A protoplanetary disc around a baby star

Opaque to see, the clouds become more transparenttransparent with high-performance infrared glasses worn by James-Webb (the instruments MiriMiri and NircamNircam). Combined with his large resolutionsresolutions, exquisite details can be seen in the filaments that stretch across this region. Thus, we see cocoonscocoons of stars and, even inside one of them, a protoplanetary disc whose size is equal to 40 times the distance between the Earth and the SunSun. The Sun and its planets were born under similar conditions more than 4.5 billion years ago. Also, observing the Orion Nebula, which is the only visible part of a very large complex of gas and dust, is it a windowwindow close for astronomersastronomers on pregnancypregnancy stars, and therefore the possibility of better understanding the conditions necessary for their formation.

“Orion’s bar represents what scientists believe to be the extreme physical conditions of ‘photodissociation regions,’ or PDRs, inuniverseuniverse billions of years agoexplained by inin in May 2021 with the announcement that an international team will be responsible for scanning this region with the James-Webb telescope from these first months of operation. “We believe that at that time there were many galaxiesgalaxies in the Universe there are “Orion Nebulae”SAYS OlivierOlivier Berné, researcher at IRAP and who contributed to the first images of the Orion Nebula with JWST, in the press release. We believe that the Orion bar may be representative of the physical conditions – the ultraviolet radiation field in this case – that prevail in the so-called “burst galaxies” that dominate the time of star formation, when the Universe is about half its age. today.

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