Large-Scale Ionization Fronts and the Nature and Distribution of Light Scattering Particles in the Orion Nebula

  • Michael A. Dopita
  • Syuzo Isobe
  • John Meaburn
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 55)


Image-tube filter photographs calibrated against photoelectric filter photometry have been used to give maps of M42 in absolute flux units over the central 15 arc min of the nebula in Hα, [N II] (λ 6584 Å), Hβ and continuum at λ 4700 Å. Maps of the ratios Hα/[N II] and (for the first time) of continuum/Hβ have been produced with unprecedented spatial resolution. These show that the gas to dust ratio is high near the exciting stars and falls strongly in the vicinity of large scale ionization fronts marked by minima in the Hα/[N II] ratio.

These results are interpreted in terms of detailed shell models containing either ice or graphite or silicate scattering particles. In all models there must be a central hole in the distribution of scattering particles. The effect of neutral globules and intrusions is investigated. It is found that all types of grain are trapped inside neutral intrusions near the centre of the nebula by the pressure of the Lα light surrounding the globule, but in the early evolution of the nebula particles can escape into the ionized medium when fronts are R-type. Ice grains escaping at this time will be destroyed for distances to the exciting stars less than 1 pc. These results can explain both the central hole in dust and the underabundance of oxygen in the ionized gas observed earlier. Arguments depending on colour index of the scattered light indicate that mixtures of scattered light from ice in the globules and from ice in the ionized medium can explain the observations, but that the graphite and silicate particles fail.

A schematic model of the Orion Nebula is presented to attempt to explain the large scale phenomena observed here. It demonstrates that simple shell models for this nebula are dubious.


Radiation Pressure Central Star Image Tube Ionization Front Neutral Material 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Dopita
    • 1
  • Syuzo Isobe
    • 2
  • John Meaburn
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of AstronomyUniversity of ManchesterEngland
  2. 2.Astronomisches Rechen-InstitutHeidelbergGermany

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