case western reserve university



Reconstructing the geometry of the Orion Nebula with spectroscopy

Gary Ferland (Kentucky)

I will describe the three-dimensional view of the Orion Nebula that has resulted from extensive emission line spectroscopy. We view what is basically a bowl that has been hollowed out by radiation pressure from the Trapezium stars. The Trapezium stars are directly in front of this bowl, which we view nearly face on. This special geometry hindered understanding the Orion Nebula for many years, due to misapplication of the Copernican Principle, the idea that we do not view the Universe from a privileged position. In this case we do. The geometry has been rendered as a 3D video, (and View Master slides) by the Hayden Planetarium. I will conclude with this video.