Washington: Astronomers have recently discovered that pebble-sized particles near Orion Nebula may kick start formation of planet.
Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have discovered that filaments of star-forming gas near the Orion Nebula may be brimming with pebble-size particles, planetary building blocks 100 to 1,000 times larger than the dust grains typically found around protostars.
If confirmed, these dense ribbons of rocky material might well represent a new, mid-size class of interstellar particles that could help jump-start planet formation. The new GBT observations extend across the northern portion of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, a star-forming region that includes the famed Orion Nebula.
The star-forming material in the section studied by the GBT, called OMC-2/3, has condensed into long, dust-rich filaments. The filaments are dotted with many dense knots known as cores. Some of the cores are just starting to coalesce while others have begun to form protostars, the first early concentrations of dust and gas along the path to star formation.
Astronomers speculated that in the next 100,000 to 1 million years, this area would likely evolve into a new star cluster. The OMC-2/3 region wasis located approximately 1,500 light-years from Earth and wasis roughly 10 light-years long.
Brian Mason, an astronomer at the NRAO, said that though the results suggested the presence of unexpectedly large dust grains, measuring the mass of dust was not a straightforward process and there could be other explanations for the bright signature they detected in the emission from the Orion Molecular Cloud.
The paper is published in the Royal Astronomical Society.