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Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Nigel Metcalfe

Schlafly, E. F., Green, G., Finkbeiner, D. P., Rix, H.-W., Burgett, W. S., Chambers, K. C., Draper, P. W., Kaiser, N., Martin, N. F., Metcalfe, N., Morgan, J. S., Price, P. A., Tonry, J. L., Wainscoat, R. J. & Waters, C. (2015). Three-dimensional Dust Mapping Reveals that Orion Forms Part of a Large Ring of Dust. The Astrophysical Journal 799(2): 116.

Author(s) from Durham


The Orion Molecular Complex is the nearest site of ongoing high-mass star formation, making it one of the most extensively studied molecular complexes in the Galaxy. We have developed a new technique for mapping the three-dimensional distribution of dust in the Galaxy using Pan-STARRS1 photometry. We isolate the dust at the distance to Orion using this technique, revealing a large (100 pc, 14° diameter), previously unrecognized ring of dust, which we term the "Orion dust ring." The ring includes Orion A and B, and is not coincident with current Hα features. The circular morphology suggests formation as an ancient bubble in the interstellar medium, though we have not been able to conclusively identify the source of the bubble. This hint at the history of Orion may have important consequences for models of high-mass star formation and triggered star formation.