IC 2118, the Witch Head Nebula (~210 parsecs), is a star forming region located near the supergiant star Rigel in the constellation Orion. Kun et al. (2004, A&A, 418, 89) have determined that IC 2118 is on the near side of the Orion-Eridanus Super Bubble and that stellar winds from the Orion OB1 association may be triggering new star formation in the nebula. We propose using IRAC and MIPS to reexamine a small dense region of this nebula where Kun et al. have spectroscopically identified three 2MASS sources as T Tauri stars embedded in the cloud. Previous all-sky surveys, including both IRAS and 2MASS, have included this region, but not to the resolution that Spitzer can provide, and there are few studies of this particular region in the literature.
Our team proposes to use IRAC and MIPS observations to (1) investigate star formation, (2) look for likely cluster member stars with infrared excesses, and characterize this young star population by obtaining their colors and therefore estimates of masses and ages, (3) study the distribution of stars, their relationship to the ISM, and the possibilities of triggered star formation, (4) compare the young star population, distribution, and age to other similar sites of star formation, e.g., IC 1396 and (5) produce a dramatic image of the interstellar medium in the region surrounding IC 2118. Since this region is in the Orion constellation near the bright star Rigel, it provides additional appeal to students and the general public.
Caltech, Pasadena, California
Oil City High School, Oil City, Pennsylvania
The IC2118 team, one of the original Spitzer progams, has written up all of their work and it appears in ApJ today. Guieu et al., 2010, ApJ, 720, 46.