Extended High Circular Polarization in the Orion Massive Star Forming Region: Implications for the Origin of Homochirality in the Solar System
We present a wide-field (∼6′ × 6′) and deep near-infrared (K s band: 2.14 μm) circular polarization image in the Orion nebula, where massive stars and many low-mass stars are forming. Our results reveal that a high circular polarization region is spatially extended (∼0.4 pc) around the massive star-forming region, the BN/KL nebula. However, other regions, including the linearly polarized Orion bar, show no significant circular polarization. Most of the low-mass young stars do not show detectable extended structure in either linear or circular polarization, in contrast to the BN/KL nebula. If our solar system formed in a massive star-forming region and was irradiated by net circularly polarized radiation, then enantiomeric excesses could have been induced, through asymmetric photochemistry, in the parent bodies of the meteorites and subsequently delivered to Earth. These could then have played a role in the development of biological homochirality on Earth.