The "Bullets" region of the Orion Nebula has a long history of adaptive optics (AO) imaging at Gemini. A smaller section of the field shown here was first targeted with the Altair adaptive optics system at Gemini North in 2007, followed by this much larger-field imaging sequence with the Gemini Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System (GeMS) at Gemini South. This near-infrared image is composed of three, 3-band pointings using GeMS with the Gemini South AO Imager (GSAOI).
In the GeMS/GSAOI image, strong winds from violent explosions associated with a region of star birth behind the Orion Nebula expel bullets of gas that created this spectacular system of molecular hydrogen wakes. Researchers and principal investigators John Bally and Adam Ginsberg of the University of Colorado are using their GeMS data to determine the intensity of the blast and the nature of the bullets. “Are they dense fragments of circumstellar disks? Could they be ejected protoplanets? Or are they portions of the prestellar core from which massive stars form?” Bally asked. “The sub-arcsecond resolution provided by GeMS is needed to resolve these shocks and to search for the compact, high-density knots responsible for these wakes.”