How do astronomers understand galaxies that are so far away that they may appear as a simple point source, even when observed with the most powerful telescopes? One proven technique is to study local analogues, galaxies that might have similar properties but are close enough to resolve their structures. A study like this was underway when researchers discovered something extraordinary – their observation was 10 times stronger than predicted.
Supermassive black holes exist at the center of most galaxies, and our Milky Way is no exception. But many other galaxies have highly active black holes, meaning a lot of material is falling into them, emitting high-energy radiation in this “feeding” process. The Milky Way’s central black hole, on the other hand, is relatively quiet. New observations from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, are helping scientists understand the differences between active and quiet black holes.
By William Reach, Kassandra Bell, and Joan Schmelz
A compilation of scientific results from The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, reveal new clues to how stars form and galaxies evolve, and closer to understanding the environment of Europa and its subsurface ocean. The airborne observatory carries a suite of instruments, each sensitive to different properties of infrared light, that gives astronomers insights into the flow of matter in galaxies.
New data from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, reveal a three-dimensional (3-D) view of the Orion Nebula – Earth’s closest star-formation nursery – and a powerful stellar wind. Researchers can rotate, zoom in, and even dive through this data cube to better understand how stars are forming.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, released new data from its recent Southern Hemisphere observations revealing the structure of celestial magnetic fields in the region known as 30 Doradus, or 30 Dor, at a scale that has never been seen before.
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, released its call for observing proposals from the U.S. and international astronomical communities. Approximately 500 hours of observing time are available for flights in 2019. Proposals that will use SOFIA data to enable Ph.D. theses will also be supported. The deadline for submitting the Phase I proposals is September 7, 2018, at 9 p.m. PDT.
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, has returned from an extended maintenance period and will resume science flights on May 22.
The May 22 mission will be a 10-hour, overnight flight where SOFIA will observe a number of celestial objects including an area of dense gas in the constellation Sagittarius. Researchers will also study the material remaining after a supernova explosion to better understand how these cataclysmic events impact the surrounding area and if these interactions form cosmic rays.
Two research teams used a map from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, to uncover new findings about stars forming in Orion’s iconic Horsehead Nebula. The map reveals vital details for getting a complete understanding of the dust and gas involved in star formation.
The American Astronomical Society, AAS, awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship to Eric Becklin, senior science advisor for SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. The lectureship is awarded annually based on "a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research, and for his leadership role in turning infrared astronomy into a fundamental tool for understanding astronomy and astrophysics."