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Astron. Astrophys. 330, 696-710 (1998)

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Near infrared spectra of the Orion bar

A. Marconi 1, 3, L. Testi 1, 4, A. Natta 2 and C.M. Walmsley 2

1 Dipartimento di Astronomia e Scienza dello Spazio, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Largo E. Fermi 5, I-50125 Firenze, Italy
2 Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, I-50125 Firenze, Italy
3 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
4 Division of Physics Mathematics and Astronomy, Caltech, MS 105-24, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Received 28 May 1997 / Accepted 26 August 1997


We have used the LONGSP spectrometer on the 1.5-m TIRGO telescope to obtain long slit spectra in the J, H, and K wavelength bands towards two positions along the Orion bar. These data have been supplemented with images made using the ARNICA camera mounted on TIRGO as well as with an ESO NTT observation carried out by Dr A. Moorwood. We detect a variety of transitions of hydrogen, helium, OI, FeII, FeIII, and [FORMULA]. From our molecular hydrogen data, we conclude that densities are moderate ([FORMULA] [FORMULA]) in the layer responsible for the molecular hydrogen emission and give no evidence for the presence of dense neutral clumps. We also find that the molecular hydrogen bar is likely to be tilted by [FORMULA] 10 degrees relative to the line of sight. We discuss the relative merits of several models of the structure of the bar and conclude that it may be split into two structures separated by 0.2-0.3 parsec along the line of sight. It also seems likely to us that in both structures, density increases along a line perpendicular to the ionization front which penetrates into the neutral gas.

We have used the 1.317 [FORMULA] OI line to estimate the FUV radiation field incident at the ionization front and find values of [FORMULA] greater than the average interstellar field. From [FeII] line measurements, we conclude that the electron density in the ionized layer associated with the ionization front is of order [FORMULA] [FORMULA]. Finally, our analysis of the helium and hydrogen recombination lines implies essential coincidence of the helium and hydrogen Strömgren spheres.

Key words: interstellar medium: HII regions – interstellar medium: Orion – IR: interstellar medium: lines and bands

Send offprint requests to: C.M. Walmsley

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: January 16, 1998