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Orion Arm

Observed structure of the Milky Way's spiral arms[1]

The Orion Arm is a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy that is 3,500 light-years (1,100 parsecs) across and approximately 10,000 light-years (3,100 parsecs) in length,[2] containing the Solar System, including Earth. It is also referred to by its full name, the Orion–Cygnus Arm, as well as Local Arm, Orion Bridge, and formerly, the Local Spur and Orion Spur.

Milky Way centre from Sinai, Egypt

The arm is named for the Orion Constellation, which is one of the most prominent constellations of Northern Hemisphere winter (Southern Hemisphere summer). Some of the brightest stars and most famous celestial objects of the constellation (e.g. Betelgeuse, Rigel, the three stars of Orion's Belt, the Orion Nebula) are within it as shown on the interactive map below.

The arm is between the Carina–Sagittarius Arm (the local portions of which are toward the Galactic Center) and the Perseus Arm (the local portion of which is the main outer-most arm and one of two major arms of the galaxy).

Long thought to be a minor structure, namely a "spur" between the two arms mentioned, evidence was presented in mid 2013 that the Orion Arm might be a branch of the Perseus Arm, or possibly an independent arm segment.[3]

Within the arm, the Solar System is close to its inner rim, in a relative cavity in the arm's Interstellar Medium known as the Local Bubble, about halfway along the arm's length, approximately 8,000 parsecs (26,000 light-years) from the Galactic Center.

Messier objects

The shape of the Orion Spur[4]

The Orion Arm contains a number of Messier objects:

Interactive maps

Rosette NebulaCrab NebulaOrion NebulaTrifid NebulaLagoon NebulaOmega NebulaEagle NebulaNorth America NebulaRigelOrion's BeltPolarisSunBetelgeuseDenebPerseus ArmOrion ArmSagittarius Arm
About this image
Orion and neighboring arms (clickable map)
Rosette NebulaSeagull NebulaCone NebulaCalifornia NebulaHeart NebulaOrion NebulaSoul NebulaNorth America NebulaCocoon NebulaGamma Cygni NebulaVeil NebulaTrifid NebulaCrescent NebulaLagoon NebulaOmega NebulaEagle NebulaCat's Paw NebulaEta Carinae NebulaCrab NebulaMessier 37Messier 36Messier 38Messier 50Messier 46Messier 67Messier 34Messier 48Messier 41Messier 47Messier 44Messier 45Messier 39Messier 52Messier 93Messier 7Messier 6Messier 25Messier 23Messier 21Messier 18Messier 26Messier 11Messier 35NGC 2362IC 2395NGC 3114NGC 3532IC 1396IC 2602NGC 6087NGC 6025NGC 3766IC 4665IC 2581IC 2944NGC 4755NGC 3293NGC 6067NGC 6193NGC 6231NGC 6383Tr 14Tr 16Messier 103Messier 29HPerChi PerCol 228O VelPerseus ArmOrion ArmSagittarius ArmStar clusterNebula
The nearest nebulae and star clusters (clickable map)

See also


  1. ^ See the "Spiral Arms" part of this NASA animation for details
  2. ^ Harold Spencer Jones, T. H. Huxley, Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Royal Institution of Great Britain, v. 38–39
  3. ^ Earth's Milky Way Neighborhood Gets More Respect, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Dave Finley, 3 June 2013
  4. ^ Vázquez, Ruben A.; May, Jorge; Carraro, Giovanni; Bronfman, Leonardo; Moitinho, André; Baume, Gustavo (January 2008). "Spiral Structure in the Outer Galactic Disk. I. The Third Galactic Quadrant". The Astrophysical Journal. 672 (2): 930–939. arXiv:0709.3973. Bibcode:2008ApJ...672..930V. doi:10.1086/524003.

External links

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