Detailed Maps Of Birthplace Of Stars In Orion A Molecular Cloud

Most detailed maps of the structure of the Orion A molecular cloud has been created by a Yale-led group of astronomers from Chile, the U.S., Japan, France, Germany, Spain, and the U.K.

Orion A is the closest star-forming region of high-mass stars and hosts a variety of star-forming environments, including dense star clusters similar to the one where Earth’s Sun is believed to have formed.

This image from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile is part of the largest infrared high-resolution mosaic of Orion ever created. It covers the Orion A molecular cloud, the nearest known massive star factory, lying about 1350 light-years from Earth, and reveals many young stars and other objects normally buried deep inside the dusty clouds. Credit: ESO/VISION survey

“Our maps probe a wide range of physical scales needed to study how stars form in molecular clouds, and how young stars impact their parent cloud,” said Yale postdoctoral associate Shuo Kong, first author of a study in a press release.

Kong said the team constructed its maps of the Orion A cloud by combining data from a single-dish telescope and an interferometer. The Yale Center for Research Computing assisted in handling the large dataset and producing the images.

The dataset and maps are collectively known as the CARMA-NRO Orion Survey. The name refers to the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter Astronomy (CARMA), an interferometer that was located in California, and the Nobeyama Radio Observatory (NRO) telescope, in Japan.

“Our survey is a unique combination of data from two very different telescopes,” said Yale graduate student Jesse Feddersen, a co-author of the study. “We have combined the zoom of CARMA with the wide-angle of NRO to simultaneously capture the details of individual forming stars and the overall shape and motions of the giant molecular cloud.”

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