APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
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APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby APOD Robot » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:05 am

Image The Orion Bullets

Explanation: Cosmic bullets pierce the outskirts of the Orion Nebula some 1500 light-years distant in this sharp infrared close-up. Blasted out by energetic massive star formation the bullets, relatively dense, hot gas clouds about ten times the size of Pluto's orbit, are blue in the false color image. Glowing with the light of ionized iron atoms they travel at speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second, their passage traced by yellowish trails of the nebula's shock-heated hydrogen gas. The cone-shaped wakes are up to a fifth of a light-year long. The detailed image was created using the 8.1 meter Gemini South telescope in Chile with a newly commisioned adaptive optics system (GeMS). Achieving a larger field of view than previous generation adaptive optics, GeMS uses five laser generated guide stars to help compensate for the blurring effects of planet Earth's atmosphere.

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby geckzilla » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:37 am

I'm not familiar with the possible lighting artifacts for this telescope. Is the shockwave-like structure on the left near the large blue cone of material really there or is it some kind of anomaly?
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby alter-ego » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:41 am

geckzilla wrote:I'm not familiar with the possible lighting artifacts for this telescope. Is the shockwave-like structure on the left near the large blue cone of material really there or is it some kind of anomaly?

I'm not sure exactly what structure you are referring to, but I can not identify any image anomalies in that vacinity. There is a star just outside the FoV there. Perhaps you are seeing that?
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby FloridaMike » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:55 pm

That is one of the most amazing images I have ever seen. Thank you.
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby geckzilla » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:14 pm

alter-ego wrote:I'm not sure exactly what structure you are referring to, but I can not identify any image anomalies in that vacinity. There is a star just outside the FoV there. Perhaps you are seeing that?


No, it's a smooth, arc-shaped structure that is pointing or moving in a different direction than the rest of the bullets. The texture is so different from the rest of the clouds that I thought it might not really be there.
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby owlice » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:43 pm

This image was released yesterday; there was a press briefing about it at the AAS meeting currently underway in Long Beach.
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby bystander » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:03 pm

owlice wrote:This image was released yesterday; there was a press briefing about it at the AAS meeting currently underway in Long Beach.
APOD Robot wrote:this sharp infrared close-up
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby owlice » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:07 pm

Yeah, I saw that, but I didn't see anything there about the press briefing at the AAS meeting; did I miss it? In any case, the point is that this image was released yesterday, and here it is on APOD. How cool is that?! :ssmile:
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Chris Peterson » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:47 pm

geckzilla wrote:I'm not familiar with the possible lighting artifacts for this telescope. Is the shockwave-like structure on the left near the large blue cone of material really there or is it some kind of anomaly?

Other than the glow around the bright stars (scatter), and the inherent resolution limit imposed by diffraction, there appear to be no visual imaging artifacts of any kind in this image.
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Ann » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:37 pm

What makes this image so interesting to me is that it shows conditions that are present in those very rare stellar maternity wards, the sites of high-mass star formation. A general rule in the Milky Way appears to be that the more massive a star is, the more unusual it is. Indeed, even the Sun is hefty enough to be sort of rare. It's not rare in the sense that there are few other stars like it, because the Sun is likely to have a couple of hundred million "fraternal twins" in our galaxy. But our Sun is anything but average in the galactic census of stars. The most common kind of star in the Milky Way is the red dwarf.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_dwarf wrote:
Red Dwarfs range in mass from a low of .075 solar masses (the upper limit for a brown dwarf) and <50% of our own star, the Sun, and a surface temperature of less than 4,000 K.
...
Hence these stars emit little light, sometimes as little as 1⁄10,000 that of the Sun. Even the largest red dwarfs (for example HD 179930, HIP 12961 and Lacaille 8760) have only about 10% of the Sun's luminosity.


So the Milky Way is a super-city of stellar midgets, a true gigantic cosmic Lilliput, inhabited by countless Lilliputians and a few Sun-sized Gullivers milling about among them!

And if the Sun-like Gullivers are anything but the norm in our galaxy, the massive Brobdingnags are almost (although not quite) as uncommon in the Milky Way as Jonathan Swift's giants are on the Earth! That's why we see so few of them being born. Although there are sites of low-mass star formation in our relative vicinity (In Taurus, Ophiuchus and Monoceros, among other places), high-mass star formation is so much more unusual. Orion, unless I'm very much mistaken, is the nearest such site from the Earth.

And the massive baby stars, the well-fed infant Brobdingnags, fire bullets! Fancy that!!!

Nice APOD!

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Psnarf » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:55 pm

I don't recall ever seeing ionized iron atoms imaged in infrared before. I know they're at the core of a star before going supernova, fusion of silicon atoms. Wonder where all that iron came from? The supernovae that formed the nebula, perhaps? I had to check my lecture notes, the layers of a pre-supernova star are hydrogen at the surface, helium, carbon, oxygen, neon, magnesium, silicon, and iron at the core. Each layer created from fusion reactions of the lighter layer above it.

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby rstevenson » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:20 pm

alter-ego wrote:
geckzilla wrote:I'm not familiar with the possible lighting artifacts for this telescope. Is the shockwave-like structure on the left near the large blue cone of material really there or is it some kind of anomaly?

I'm not sure exactly what structure you are referring to, but I can not identify any image anomalies in that vacinity. There is a star just outside the FoV there. Perhaps you are seeing that?

I suspect the reference is to this arc of brownish material.

arc.jpg

I think it's just a bit of the gas/dust that happens to look like an arc from our POV.

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Jebroubien » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:50 pm

This has to be the most detailed zoomed in picture of this star formation I have ever seen. GOGO techonolgy adavances!

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby orin stepanek » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:05 pm

Nicely done picture; like fireworks! 8-) :D :thumb_up: :thumb_up: :yes: :yes: and an old smiley; for the geezer! :old: :wink:
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Boomer12k » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:16 pm

Reminds me of the "Pillars of Creation" in the Eagle Nebula. Though a totally different phenomena and cause, of course. A stellar "Shotgun blast", pellets firing out into space. Wonder what they are aiming at?
They are iron, so they are dense, so they would have some gravity, so they would tend to amass material and gas as they continue to travel, so the material would collect and collapse, eventually possibly creating a star? The Sun is said to be a "Third Generation Star", I wonder if THIS process is how the Sun got some of its iron and how it helped it to become a star. I wonder if these Iron Bullets then hit a Molecular Cloud and HELPED seed it for star formation.

We maybe looking at STAR SEEDS.

Got to get me an infrared setup for my 10inch Meade.

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Sinan İpek » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:29 pm

We know that Sol is either a second or a third generation star, because it has some elements other than hydrogen and helium in it. But where is the first generation star out of whose remnants Sol came into being? It should have become either an blackhole or a neutron star. Doesn't that mean there should have been some remnants of it in the neighborhood of Sol? I mean, there should have been either a blackhole or a neutron star near Sol. But where is it? It should be near. And our grandpa star must have some grandchildren other than Sol. Where are Sol's cousins? Can we find them by investigating the composition of the stars near Sol?
Last edited by Sinan İpek on Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby BMAONE23 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:36 pm

I would imagine that the first/second generation star(s) would have met their demise over 5 billion yrars ago. The pressure of their outbursts would have forced ambient gas clouds to condence over a space of hundreds of light years distance. We could be at the mid-point of 4 or 5 such stellar deaths that happened some 2 or 3 hundred light years distance from us. Although the same process can and does happed with only a single stellar death and a sufficient ammount of gas to compress.

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Sinan İpek » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:44 pm

BMAONE23 wrote:I would imagine that the first/second generation star(s) would have met their demise over 5 billion yrars ago.

So you think we cannot distinguish Sol's grandpa star(s) from the Milkyway's commonwealth stars?

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Chris Peterson » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:00 pm

Sinan İpek wrote:So you think we cannot distinguish Sol's grandpa star(s) from the Milkyway's commonwealth stars?

They would all be black holes or neutron stars, which are difficult to detect in any case. And there's no way to work backwards that far and figure out where our parent stars' remnants might even be.
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Sinan İpek » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:43 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:They would all be black holes or neutron stars, which are difficult to detect in any case.

1. Are 5 billion years so many for us to backtrack our neighboring stars?
2. Isn't there any chance we hava a blackhole or a neutron star in our neighborhood? Perhaps, they would have been the remnants of our grandpa stars? Can't we deduce anything from them?

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby saturno2 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:58 pm

I agree with orin Stepanek, I see this image as fireworks, too.
I think that this picture with spectacular fireworks given the start
of the new cycle in the Long Count Calendar..... :)

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Chris Peterson » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:00 am

Sinan İpek wrote:1. Are 5 billion years so many for us to backtrack our neighboring stars?

Yes. This is something on the order of 25 full rotations of the galaxy- more than enough to scramble things beyond even the theoretical ability to reconstruct positions.

2. Isn't there any chance we hava a blackhole or a neutron star in our neighborhood? Perhaps, they would have been the remnants of our grandpa stars? Can't we deduce anything from them?

We may have such things fairly nearby. But there's no reason to think they would be progenitors of the Sun. The only things that can stay local are those which are gravitationally bound to us (and there are no such objects). We and our progenitors have been in different galactic orbits for 5 billion years.
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Sinan İpek » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:11 am

Chris Peterson wrote: We and our progenitors have been in different galactic orbits for 5 billion years.

Thanks! This has perplexed my mind for so many years.
To summarize, our progenitor star(s) have been all dead for at least 5 billion years. They might have been hundreds of light years away when they exploded. They all contributed interstellar cloud. They aren't even gravitationally bound to our system. Wherebouts of them unknown. We can find a blackhole or a neutron star in our neighborhood but we cannot say that they are our progenitors. Thanks.
But why do we all see so many nursery nebulae around us? The newborn stars in them all seem to go together.
Last edited by Sinan İpek on Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby Chris Peterson » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:23 am

Sinan İpek wrote:But why do we all see so many nursery nebulae around us? The newborn stars in them all seem to go together.

They are together. They are forming in regions where they and the surrounding gas and dust are loosely bound gravitationally. Over a few million years, those regions dissipate and their constituent stars drift apart.
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Re: APOD: The Orion Bullets (2013 Jan 10)

Postby alter-ego » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:43 am

geckzilla wrote:No, it's a smooth, arc-shaped structure that is pointing or moving in a different direction than the rest of the bullets. The texture is so different from the rest of the clouds that I thought it might not really be there.

Chris Peterson wrote:
geckzilla wrote:I'm not familiar with the possible lighting artifacts for this telescope. Is the shockwave-like structure on the left near the large blue cone of material really there or is it some kind of anomaly?

Other than the glow around the bright stars (scatter), and the inherent resolution limit imposed by diffraction, there appear to be no visual imaging artifacts of any kind in this image.

Below is a mosaic of the central region of the Orion Nebula obtained with the ESO VLT (ISAAC) at the Paranal Obs. I've added a yellow box to outline the APOD FoV. I clipped this region out and made the overlay to the right. Other than some slight distortion and apparent filtering differences, the overlay shows there are indeed no artifacts or anomalies (two different images, two different telescopes). This comparison does highlight the amazing image quality GeMS can achieve.

Click to view full size image 1 or image 2
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