The Orion Nebula has remained one of the notable nebulae ever discovered by astronomers. Since French Astronomer Nicolas-Claude Fabri De Peiresc discovered the Orion Nebula using a refracting telescope on 26 November 1610, the world has been fascinated to learn more about this unique nebula. Astronomers later discovered that this Nebula lies in a popular star-forming region within Orion’s constellation.
NASA’s flying telescope SOFIA recently discovered that the Orion Nebula has been leaking gas and dust for a year within its gaseous shell. Astronomers refer to this expanding shell as the Orion’s Veil. The wind emanating from a gigantic group of stars that lies within a Nebula known as the Trapezium Cluster is the originator of this Orion’s Veil.
The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) revealed that these winds rotate dust and gas to create a bubble that encloses the nebula. USRA also stated that this bubble created around the nebula is expanding towards the earth.
Researchers recently used the Airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) to study the nebula closely. They discovered that Orion’s Veil might have been pierced from its northwestern region, thereby creating a pathway for gas and dust to escape from the Orion Nebula.
This discovery fascinated the astronomers that participated in the study. Ümit Kavak, who works as the lead author of this research, stated, “The bubble with a diameter of approximately seven light-years should be an almost sphere-like structure, but we found a protrusion in its northwestern part. When you breach the Veil shell, you effectively start stirring a cosmic soup of gas and dust by adding turbulence.”
The researchers were quite astonished by this new discovery. But they hope to learn more about protrusion in the future. When the study was concluded, the scientists published their discoveries in April 2022 in the journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics. You can read more from the Journal to get a more detailed insight into this unique astronomical discovery.
Without the SOFIA Telescope, this discovery would not have been made. So what is special about this Sophisticated telescope? The SOFIA telescope was launched as a joint partnership between NASA and the GERMAN Aerospace Center (DLR) to observe the Infrared Universe.
It has been in operation since 2010, and scientists look forward to extending its mission duration to September 30th, 2022. This discovery was made possible by the Geman-built Receiver for Astronomy connected to the SOFIA’s telescope. This receiver operates at Terahertz Frequencies, which makes the instrument more sophisticated to detect and unveil ionized carbon emissions from distanced celestial objects.
Hence, the receiver could spot the carbon emission emanating from the protrusion. This enabled the scientists to determine the structure, expansion, and size of the Orion’s Veil Shell. The scientists that made the discovery strongly believed that this new finding would help determine the fate of Orion’s Veil shells in the future. Let’s hope that future studies will enable us to learn the actual causes of these gas and dust leakages from the Orion’s Veil.