New SOFIA Observations Help Unravel Mysteries of the Birth of Colossal Suns
The massive forming star Cepheus A shown at three infrared wavelengths of 8, 19 and 37 microns. The location of the star is marked by the green dot in each panel. As the wavelength increases, researchers can see more deeply into the dusty gas cloud from which the star is forming. Light from the outflow cavity facing toward the telescope is indicated with the blue arrows, while light from the cavity facing away from the telescope is indicated with the red arrows. As part of the formation process, a disk around the star launches magnetized winds that clear a path through the dense, dusty cloud, making it easier to see the hot, glowing dust near star. The 8 micron image only reveals light from the outflow cavity facing the telescope. But in the 37 micron image, the longest wavelength, the hot dust from both cavities becomes apparent. By using the images at various wavelengths, researchers can reconstruct the structure and orientation of the material forming Cepheus A.