Bullet-like clumps of gas hurtle through the Orion stellar nursery at supersonic speed in a new image from the Gemini North observatory. The unusual structures are revealed in unprecedented detail by newly commissioned laser-equipped optics.
The so-called 'bullets' are located in the Orion Nebula, a star-forming region about 1500 light years from Earth. Each of the few dozen observed is a dense clump of gas about as wide as Pluto's orbit around the Sun.
Tearing through the surrounding medium of thin gas at 400 kilometres per second, the bullets create shock waves in front of them. As the shock waves propagate, they produce lengthy glowing trails – each about 400 times longer than our entire solar system.
Based on the length of the trails and the bullets' speed, the bullets appear to have formed simultaneously less than 1000 years ago.
Exactly what triggered their birth is unknown. But they may be related to a nearby, bright source of infrared light thought to be a moderately heavy star that is partially obscured by dust.Spotted here