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Green Bank Telescope Captures An Image Of A Stunning Star-Forming Gas In Orion Nebula

First Posted: Jun 19, 2017 05:20 AM EDT

The Green Bank Telescope captured an image of a star-forming gas in the stellar nursery of the Orion Nebula. It is about 1,200 light-years away and moves in the northern part of the Orion Molecular Cloud. It is filled with bright young stars and lightened by hot gas.

The description of the image was printed in the Astrophysical Journal. The work was led by co-principal investigator Jaime Pineda, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, astronomers from the University of Toronto's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics.

In the image, the ammonia molecules within a 50-light-year-long filament were seen. It was identified through radio observations made with the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, according to Phys.org.

Rachel Friesen, one of the collaboration's co-Principal Investigators and a Dunlap Fellow at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, said that they still do not understand in detail how large clouds of gas in the Milky Way galaxy collapse to form new stars. She also said that ammonia is an excellent tracer of densest star-forming gas. These massive ammonia maps could make them able to detect the motions and temperature of the densest gas. She added that this is critical to evaluating whether gas clouds and filaments are stable or are undergoing collapse on their way to forming new stars.

The image and the observations were entered in the first release of data from the Green Bank Ammonia Survey. This is a major research campaign that maps the star-forming concentrations and other tracer molecules in the Gould Belt, which comprises of bright and massive stars that expand about 3,000 light-years across the sky in the arc formation. The observations could help in understanding how the massive clouds of gas in the Milky Way collapsed to develop new stars, according to Charleston Gazette-Mail.

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