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The magnetic field in the Flame nebula

Beslic, I., Coudé, S., Lis, D.C., Gerin, M., Goldsmith, P.F., Pety, J., Roueff, A., Demyk, K., Dowell, C.D., Einig, L., Goicoechea, J.R., Levrier, F., Orkisz, J., Peretto, N. ORCID:, Santa-Maria, M.G., Ysard, N. and Zakardjian, A. 2024. The magnetic field in the Flame nebula. Astronomy & Astrophysics 684 , A212. 10.1051/0004-6361/202348376

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Context. Star formation drives the evolution of galaxies and the cycling of matter between different phases of the interstellar medium and stars. The support of interstellar clouds against gravitational collapse by magnetic fields has been proposed as a possible explanation for the low observed star formation efficiency in galaxies and the Milky Way. The Planck satellite provided the first all-sky map of the magnetic field geometry in the diffuse interstellar medium on angular scales of 5–15′. However, higher spatial resolution observations are required to understand the transition from diffuse, subcritical gas to dense, gravitationally unstable filaments. Aims. NGC 2024, also known as the Flame nebula, is located in the nearby Orion B molecular cloud. It contains a young, expanding H II region and a dense supercritical filament. This filament harbors embedded protostellar objects and is likely not supported by the magnetic field against gravitational collapse. Therefore, NGC 2024 provides an excellent opportunity to study the role of magnetic fields in the formation, evolution, and collapse of dense filaments, the dynamics of young H II regions, and the effects of mechanical and radiative feedback from massive stars on the surrounding molecular gas. Methods. We combined new 154 and 216 μm dust polarization measurements carried out using the HAWC+ instrument aboard SOFIA with molecular line observations of 12CN(1−0) and HCO+(1−0) from the IRAM 30-m telescope to determine the magnetic field geometry, and to estimate the plane of the sky magnetic field strength across the NGC 2024 H II region and the surrounding molecular cloud. Results. The HAWC+ observations show an ordered magnetic field geometry in NGC 2024 that follows the morphology of the expanding H II region and the direction of the main dense filament. The derived plane of the sky magnetic field strength is moderate, ranging from 30 to 80 μG. The strongest magnetic field is found at the eastern edge of the H II region, characterized by the highest gas densities and molecular line widths. In contrast, the weakest field is found toward the main, dense filament in NGC 2024. Conclusions. We find that the magnetic field has a non-negligible influence on the gas stability at the edges of the expanding H II shell (gas impacted by stellar feedback) and the filament (site of current star formation).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Publisher: EDP Sciences
ISSN: 0004-6361
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 February 2024
Date of Acceptance: 20 January 2024
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2024 13:57

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