Nearby regions of massive star formation

John Bally, Nathaniel Cunningham, Nickolas Moeckel, Nathan Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Observations of the nearest regions of massive star formation such as Orion are reviewed. Early-type stars in the local OB associations, as well as their superbubbles and supershells provide a fossil record of massive star birth in the Solar vicinity over about the last 40 Myr. This record shows that most massive stars are born from dense, high-pressure, hot cores which spawn transient clusters that dissipate into the field soon after formation. A large fraction (15 to 30%) of massive stars are high-velocity runaways moving at more than 20 km s-1. High-mass stars have a larger companion fraction than their lower-mass siblings. The Orion star forming complex contains the nearest site of on-going massive star formation. Studies of the Orion Nebula and the dense molecular cloud core located immediately behind the HII region provide our sharpest view of massive star birth. This region has formed a hierarchy of clusters within clusters. The Trapezium, OMC-1S, and OMC-1 regions represent three closely spaced sub-clusters within the more extended Orion Nebula Cluster. The oldest of these sub-clusters, which consists of the Trapezium stars, has completely emerged from its natal core. The OMC-1S and OMC-1 regions, are still highly embedded and forming clusters of additional moderate and high mass stars. Over a dozen YSOs embedded in OMC-1S are driving jets and outflows, many of which are injecting energy and momentum into the Orion Nebula. Recent proper motion measurements indicate that the Becklin-Neugebauer object is a high-velocity star moving away from the OMC1 core with a velocity of 30 km s-1, making it the youngest high-velocity star known. Source I may be moving in the opposite direction with a velocity of about 12 km s-1. The projected separation between source I and BN was less than few hundred AU about 500 years ago. The spectacular bipolar molecular outflow and system of shock-excited H2 fingers emerging from OMC-1 has a dynamical age of about 1100 years. It is possible that a dynamical interaction between three or more stars in OMC-1 led to the formation of this eruptive outflow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS227
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Space and Planetary Science


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