Orion Nebula with magnetic lines

SOFIA Observations of the “New Starry Nights”


The Orion Nebula is among the best observed and most photographed objects in the night sky. It is the closest star-formation laboratory to Earth. Streamlines show the magnetic field morphology determined from 53 μm polarization maps obtained with SOFIA’s HAWC+ instrument. These are superposed on an infrared image taken by the Very Large Telescope in Chile, which shows the Trapezium stars in white and the Becklin-Neugebauer object in pink. 

SOFIA’s HAWC+ instrument is sensitive to the alignment of dust grains, which line up along magnetic fields, letting researchers infer the direction and strength. The polarimetry observations have produced some of the most detailed magnetic field line maps to date, with spatial scales of ~0.01 pc (53 μm band). 

NASA/SOFIA/D. Chuss/ L. Proudfit
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