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Temperature Variations from HST Spectroscopy of the Orion Nebula

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DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-8711.2003.06185.x
arXiv ID: astro-ph/0212244
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We present HST/STIS long-slit spectroscopy of NGC 1976. Our goal is to measure the intrinsic line ratio [O III] 4364/5008 and thereby evaluate the electron temperature (T_e) and the fractional mean-square T_e variation (t_A^2) across the nebula. We also measure the intrinsic line ratio [N II] 5756/6585 in order to estimate T_e and t_A^2 in the N^+ region. The interpretation of the [N II] data is not as clear cut as the [O III] data because of a higher sensitivity to knowledge of the electron density as well as a possible contribution to the [N II] 5756 emission by recombination (and cascading). We present results from binning the data along the various slits into tiles that are 0.5" square (matching the slit width). The average [O III] temperature for our four HST/STIS slits varies from 7678 K to 8358 K; t_A^2 varies from 0.00682 to at most 0.0176. For our preferred solution, the average [N II] temperature for each of the four slits varies from 9133 K to 10232 K; t_A^2 varies from 0.00584 to 0.0175. The measurements of T_e reported here are an average along each line of sight. Therefore, despite finding remarkably low t_A^2, we cannot rule out significantly larger temperature fluctuations along the line of sight. The result that the average [N II] T_e exceeds the average [O III] T_e confirms what has been previously found for Orion and what is expected on theoretical grounds. Observations of the proplyd P159-350 indicate: large local extinction associated; ionization stratification consistent with external ionization by theta^1 Ori C; and indirectly, evidence of high electron density.


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