associated molecular cloud
abr-e molekuli-ye âhazidé
Fr.: nuage moléculaire associé
A → molecular cloud that is physically or apparently related to a star formation region.
dense molecular cloud
abr-e molekuli-ye cagâl
Fr.: nuage moléculaire dense
A type of → interstellar medium cloud in which → carbon (C) becomes almost completely molecular due to relatively high → extinction. The chemistry is qualitatively different from that of → diffuse molecular clouds, as the → electron abundance is very low (→ cosmic-ray ionization being the dominant source) and the reactive C is replaced by the very stable → carbon monoxide (CO). This regime is found only in → sightlines with AV > 5-10 mag; not all such sightlines will contain dense cloud material and if dense cloud material is present it is likely to be surrounded by → translucent material. These clouds are typically → self-gravitating, and are most often observed by → infrared absorption and → millimeter wave emission methods. Their densities are typically at least 104 cm-3, and their → kinetic temperatures are typically on the order of 10-50 K in the quiescent regions. Most of the more than 140 currently known → interstellar molecules were found through observations of → microwave→ rotational transitions in such clouds, starting with the discovery of OH, followed by a host of other new detections such as CO, NH3, H2O, and H2CO (Snow & McCall, 2006, ARA&A 44, 367).
diffuse molecular cloud
abr-e molekuli-ye paxšidé
Fr.: nuage moléculaire diffus
A type of → molecular cloud in which the → interstellar radiation field is sufficiently attenuated, so that the local fraction of → molecular hydrogen (H2) becomes substantial (> 0.1). However, enough interstellar radiation is still present to → photoionize any atomic carbon, or to → photodissociate → carbon monoxide (CO) such that carbon is predominantly still in the form of C+ (> 0.5). In steady state, diffuse molecular clouds must necessarily be surrounded by diffuse atomic gas, in order to provide the → shielding of radiation. This means that most sightlines that cross a diffuse molecular cloud will also cross → diffuse atomic gas (Snow & McCall, 2006, ARA&A 44, 367).
giant molecular cloud (GMC)
abr-e molekuli-ye qulpeykar (#)
Fr.: nuage moléculaire géant
A massive complex of → interstellar gas and → dust, consisting mostly of → molecular hydrogen, that typically stretches over 150 light-years and contains several hundred thousand → solar masses. Giant molecular clouds are the principal sites of star formation. → molecular cloud.
abr-e molekuli (#)
Fr.: nuage moléculaire
A relatively dense, cold region of interstellar matter where the atoms are primarily bound together as molecules rather than free atoms or ionized particles. Molecular clouds represent the coldest and densest phase of the → interstellar medium. They consist primarily of → molecular hydrogen (H2), with temperatures in the range 10-100 K. Molecular hydrogen is not directly observable under most conditions in molecular clouds. Therefore, almost all current knowledge about the properties of molecular clouds has been deduced from observations of molecules such as → carbon monoxide (CO), which have strong emission lines mainly in the → millimeter portion of the → electromagnetic spectrum. So far 129 molecular species have been detected in molecular clouds, among which complex organic molecules. → Dust grains in molecular clouds play a crucial role in the formation of molecules. Molecular clouds are the principal sites where stars form. → giant molecular cloud; → Orion molecular cloud.
Orion molecular cloud
abr-e molekuli-ye Šekârgar, ~ ~ Orion
Fr.: nuage moléculaire d'Orion
A giant cloud, or complex of clouds, of interstellar gas and dust associated with the Orion nebula (M42). It is about 1,500 light-years away and measures about 240 light-years across. Besides M42 and M43 it contains a number of famous objects, including Barnard's Loop, the Horsehead Nebula, and the reflection nebulae around M78. Within this cloud, stars have formed recently, and are still in the process of formation.