Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2019 February 27
Explanation: Can magnetism affect how stars form? Recent analysis of Orion data from the HAWC+ instrument on the airborne SOFIA observatory indicate that, at times, it can. HAWC+ is able to measure the polarization of far-infrared light which can reveal the alignment of dust grains by expansive ambient magnetic fields. In the featured image, these magnetic fields are shown as curvy lines superposed on an infrared image of the Orion Nebula taken by a Very Large Telescope in Chile. Orion's Kleinmann-Low Nebula is visible slightly to the upper right of the image centre, while bright stars of the Trapezium cluster are visible just to the lower left of centre. The Orion Nebula at about l300 light years distant is the nearest major star formation region to the Sun.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.