Measurement and interpretation of deuterium-line emission in the orion nebula

C. R. O'Dell, G. J. Ferland, W. J. Henney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We present new observations of the deuterium and hydrogen Balmer lines in the Orion Nebula. There is a real variation in the deuterium-to-hydrogen line ratios across the nebula, being greatest in the emission from the largest proplyd (Orion 244-440). We also present the results of a detailed model for the emission of these lines, the hydrogen lines being the result of photoionization and recombination while the deuterium lines are produced by fluorescent excitation of the upper energy states by the far-UV radiation from θ1 Ori C. Comparison of the observations and predictions of the line intensities shows good agreement, both in the strength of the reference lines at Hβ and also in the differences of the Balmer decrement for the two atoms. The fact that both the deuterium and hydrogen emissions arise from mechanisms that count the near-ultraviolet (deuterium) and photoionizing ultraviolet (hydrogen) photons from the dominant star means that there is little prospect of similar observations being useful for determination of D/H abundances in H II regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-214
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2001


  • ISM: abundances
  • ISM: general
  • ISM: individual (Orion Nebula)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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