The Meissa Ring

If you look at most of the images in this tour you will see a ring or hole located around Meissa, the star that occupies where one would imagine Orion has his head. The star is young, hot, and massive. Because it is very hot, it emits enough ultraviolet light to turn all the hydrogen atoms with 100 light years of the star into ions. Thus, one finds very little hydrogen atoms within a large ring surrounding the star.

Meissa formed out of the molecular clouds astronomers have found in Orion. In fact, the molecules outside the ring of ions probably are the remnants of the cloud from which Meissa formed. The energy Meissa has dumped back into space was enough to break up and scatter the molecular cloud from which the star formed.

Why don't you go back and look for the ring in each of the images in the tour.

Image Map

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Ronald J. Maddalena 1998