Orion Arm

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

The Orion Arm is a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way some 3,500 light-years (1,100 parsecs) across and approximately 10,000 light-years (3,100 parsecs) in length.[2] The Solar System, including the Earth, lies within the Orion Arm. 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.

The Orion 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 this constellation (Betelgeuse, Rigel, the stars of Orion's Belt, the Orion Nebula) are located within the Orion Arm, as shown on the interactive map below.

The Orion Arm is located between the Carina–Sagittarius Arm (toward the Galactic Center) and the Perseus Arm (toward the outside Universe), the latter one of the two major arms of the Milky Way. Long thought to be a minor structure, a "spur" between the two longer adjacent arms Perseus and Carina-Sagittarius, evidence was presented in mid 2013 that it might be a branch of the Perseus Arm, or possibly an independent arm segment itself.[3]

Within the Orion Arm, the Solar System, including Earth, is located close to the inner rim in the Local Bubble, about halfway along the Orion Arm's length, approximately 8,000 parsecs (26,000 light-years) from the Galactic Center.

Messier objects[edit]

The shape of the Orion Spur[4]

The Orion Arm contains a number of Messier objects:

Interactive maps[edit]

Rosette Nebula Crab Nebula Orion Nebula Trifid Nebula Lagoon Nebula Omega Nebula Eagle Nebula North America Nebula Rigel Orion's Belt Polaris Sun Betelgeuse Deneb Perseus Arm Orion Arm Sagittarius Arm
About this image
Orion and neighboring arms (clickable map)
Rosette Nebula Seagull Nebula Cone Nebula California Nebula Heart Nebula Orion Nebula Soul Nebula North America Nebula Cocoon Nebula Gamma Cygni Nebula Veil Nebula Trifid Nebula Crescent Nebula Lagoon Nebula Omega Nebula Eagle Nebula Cat's Paw Nebula Eta Carinae Nebula Crab Nebula Messier 37 Messier 36 Messier 38 Messier 50 Messier 46 Messier 67 Messier 34 Messier 48 Messier 41 Messier 47 Messier 44 Messier 45 Messier 39 Messier 52 Messier 93 Messier 7 Messier 6 Messier 25 Messier 23 Messier 21 Messier 18 Messier 26 Messier 11 Messier 35 NGC 2362 IC 2395 NGC 3114 NGC 3532 IC 1396 IC 2602 NGC 6087 NGC 6025 NGC 3766 IC 4665 IC 2581 IC 2944 NGC 4755 NGC 3293 NGC 6067 NGC 6193 NGC 6231 NGC 6383 Tr 14 Tr 16 Messier 103 Messier 29 HPer Chi Per Col 228 O Vel Perseus Arm Orion Arm Sagittarius Arm Star cluster Nebula
The nearest nebulae and star clusters (clickable map)

See also[edit]


  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:0709.3973Freely accessible. Bibcode:2008ApJ...672..930V. doi:10.1086/524003. 

External links[edit]