Physical conditions in Orion's Veil. II. A multicomponent study of the line of sight toward the Trapezium

N. P. Abel, G. J. Ferland, C. R. O'Dell, G. Shaw, T. H. Troland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Orion's Veil is an absorbing screen that lies along the line of sight to the Orion H II region. It consists of two or more layers of gas that must lie within a few parsecs of the Trapezium cluster. Our previous work considered the Veil as a whole and found that the magnetic field dominates the energetics of the gas in at least one component. Here we use high-resolution STIS UV spectra that resolve the two velocity components in absorption and determine the conditions in each. We derive a volume hydrogen density, 21 cm spin temperature, turbulent velocity, and kinetic temperature for each. We combine these estimates with magnetic field measurements to find that magnetic energy significantly dominates turbulent and thermal energies in one component, while the other component is close to equipartition between turbulent and magnetic energies. We observe H2 absorption for highly excited v, J levels that are photoexcited by the stellar continuum, and detect blueshifted S +2 and P+2 ions. These ions must arise from ionized gas between the mostly neutral portions of the Veil and the Trapezium and shields the Veil from ionizing radiation. We find that this layer of ionized gas is also responsible for He I λ3889 absorption toward the Veil, which resolves a 40 year old debate on the origin of He I absorption toward the Trapezium. Finally, we determine that the ionized and mostly atomic layers of the Veil will collide in less than 85,000 yr.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-354
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2006


  • H II regions
  • ISM: atoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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