New Evidence for the Dynamical Decay of a Multiple System in the Orion Kleinmann-Low Nebula

K. L. Luhman, M. Robberto, J. C. Tan, M. Andersen, M. Giulia Ubeira Gabellini, C. F. Manara, I. Platais, L. Ubeda

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26 Scopus citations


We have measured astrometry for members of the Orion Nebula Cluster with images obtained in 2015 with the Wide Field Camera 3 on board the Hubble Space Telescope. By comparing those data to previous measurements with the Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer on Hubble in 1998, we have discovered that a star in the Kleinmann-Low Nebula, source x from Lonsdale et al., is moving with an unusually high proper motion of 29 mas yr-1, which corresponds to 55 km s-1 at the distance of Orion. Previous radio observations have found that three other stars in the Kleinmann-Low Nebula (the Becklin-Neugebauer object and sources I and n) have high proper motions (5-14 mas yr-1) and were near a single location ∼540 years ago, and thus may have been members of a multiple system that dynamically decayed. The proper motion of source x is consistent with ejection from that same location 540 years ago, which provides strong evidence that the dynamical decay did occur and that the runaway star BN originated in the Kleinmann-Low Nebula rather than the nearby Trapezium cluster. However, our constraint on the motion of source n is significantly smaller than the most recent radio measurement, which indicates that it did not participate in the event that ejected the other three stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL3
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 20 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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