An international research team has just revealed the first images of the Orion Nebula, the richest and closest star nursery in the Solar System, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. They once again demonstrate the exceptional performance of this instrument.
The most detailed and complete images ever taken of a Photo-Dissociation Region (PDR) in the closest site of massive star formation, the Orion Molecular Cloud, have been obtained with the Keck telescope and portends what JWST should soon accomplish. These observations are critical for understanding the interaction of young massive stars with the gas and dust cloud in which they are born and where Sun-like stars form.
The first data were presented on Tuesday 12 July. They confirm the exceptional performance of the JWST and its four scientific instruments (NIRSPec, NIRISS, NIRCam, MIRI), in particular the angular resolution and sensitivity which are often better than predicted.
Nano-diamonds remain an enigmatic component of cosmic dust. A significant fraction of the pre-solar nano-diamonds extracted from primitive meteorites were associated with distant exploding stars (supernovae). While they have been found in many Solar System bodies, they have been detected in only two proto-planetery disks and one evolved star, and they have never been observed in the interstellar medium. Newly-derived nano-diamond optical constants generated with the THEMIS dust model developed at IAS explain why it is hard to observe nano-diamonds in space.
The INCLASS (Innovative Common Laboratory For Space Spectroscopy) LabCom was created between the IAS and the ACRI-ST company, for an initial period of four years. A LabCom is a common laboratory between a SME and a public research laboratory, supported by the ANR (French national research agency). INCLASS is the first LabCom involving astrophysics research teams.