About the Object

Name: [BOM2000] d203-506, HH 520, Messier 42, Orion Bar, Orion Nebula
Distance: 1400 light years
Constellation: Orion
Category: Nebulae
NIRCam

Coordinates

Position (RA):5 35 22.27
Position (Dec):-5° 24' 29.63"
Field of view:2.08 x 2.31 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 95.0° left of vertical



Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Infrared1.4 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared1.62 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared1.64 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared1.82 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared
methane
2.1 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared
P-alpha
1.87 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared2.77 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared
molecular hydrogen
2.12 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared
water ice
3.0 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared
PAH
3.35 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared
molecular hydrogen
3.23 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared
molecular hydrogen
4.7 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared4.8 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam

The Orion Bar region (NIRCam image)

An international team of scientists have used data collected by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope to detect a molecule known as the methyl cation (CH3+) for the first time, located in the protoplanetary disc surrounding a young star. They accomplished this feat with a cross-disciplinary expert analysis, including key input from laboratory spectroscopists. The vital role of CH3+ in interstellar carbon chemistry has been predicted since the 1970s, but Webb’s unique capabilities have finally made observing it possible — in a region of space where planets capable of accommodating life could eventually form.

This image is NIRCam’s view of the Orion Bar region studied by the team of astronomers. Bathed in harsh ultraviolet light from the stars of the Trapezium Cluster, it is an area of intense activity, with star formation and active astrochemistry. This made it a perfect place to study the exact impact that ultraviolet radiation has on the molecular makeup of the discs of gas and dust that surround new stars. The radiation erodes the nebula’s gas and dust in a process known as photoevaporation; this creates the rich tapestry of cavities and filaments that fill the view. The radiation also ionises the molecules, causing them to emit light — not only does this create a beautiful vista, it also allows astronomers to study the molecules using the spectrum of their emitted light obtained with Webb’s MIRI and NIRSpec instruments.

The two very large, bright stars are two of the three stars in the θ² Orionis system — the Trapezium Cluster is also known as θ¹ Orionis. The brightest star here, θ² Orionis A, is surrounded by particularly bright and red puffs of dust, which are reflecting the star’s light towards Earth. Its great brightness — it is visible with the naked eye — is due to the fact that θ² Orionis A is itself a ternary system made of three closely bound bright stars. 

There are more proplyds visible in this image than just d203-506 — the Orion Nebula is replete with such new stars. In the very top left, a tiny star is visible within a long, dusty cocoon. This globule has formed from the star’s protoplanetary disc, as the disc is broken down by the energetic radiation of the Trapezium Cluster. Around the globule, a round shockwave is strikingly visible moving through the gas of the Orion Nebula.

[Image description: A nebula made of many layers of cloudy, colourful material. The top-left side of the image is brightly lit, filled with wispy, thin material in pale shades of pink and blue. A thick bar of denser, cloudier material crosses diagonally at the bottom right. It begins as orange and grows darker and sparser down to the corner. Two very bright stars, with very long diffraction spikes, lie in this sparse area.]

Credit:

ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb), the PDRs4All ERS Team

About the Image

Id: weic2315b
Type: Observation
Release date: 26 June 2023, 17:00
Related releases: weic2315
Size: 4049 x 4500 px


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