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Astronomers produce detailed maps of star-forming region in Orion A

May 18 (UPI) — Newly published maps, produced by a research team led by Yale astronomers, has revealed the Orion A molecular cloud in unprecedented detail.

Located 1,350 light-years from Earth, the Orion A molecular cloud is the closest star-forming region of massive stars. Found within Orion A are regions similar to the star-birthing environs that produced our sun.

“Our maps probe a wide range of physical scales needed to study how stars form in molecular clouds, and how young stars impact their parent cloud,” Yale postdoctoral associate Shuo Kong said in a news release.

The maps were compiled using observations collected by a single-dish telescope and an interferometer as part of the CARMA-NRO Orion Survey.

“Our survey is a unique combination of data from two very different telescopes,” said Yale graduate student Jesse Feddersen, a co-author of the study. “We have combined the zoom of CARMA with the wide-angle of NRO to simultaneously capture the details of individual forming stars and the overall shape and motions of the giant molecular cloud.”

Because the different regions and structures within Orion A feature a diversity of star-forming environs, the new maps can help scientists better understand how cosmic conditions influence stellar formation and evolution.

The new data, detailed in the Astrophysical Journal, will also help scientists better understand the different stages of stellar formation and evolution. The complexity of the Orion Nebula and its molecular clouds, has made the cosmic structure a popular research target.

The CARMA survey was conducted with funding support from the National Science Foundation.

“The combined observations are a great help for astronomers seeking to understand how fast and efficiently stars form,” said Glen Langston, NSF program director. “For example, their maps show the energy released by high-mass stars has a strong impact on the cloud environment.”

Earlier this year, scientists at Hubble created a 3D video tour of the Orion Nebula.

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