SOFIA Highlights: Star formation
By Maggie Thompson, Ralph Shuping, and Joan Schmelz
Paper: Studying the Evolution of Warm Dust Encircling BD +20 307 Using SOFIA
Thompson, Maggie A., et al., 2019, ApJ, 875, 45.
Recent observations from SOFIA of a binary star system designated BD +20 307 indicate that there may have been a catastrophic collision between two planets within the last 10 years.
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.
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.
To have a full picture of the lives of massive stars, researchers need to study them in all stages – from when they’re a mass of unformed gas and dust, to their often dynamic end-of-life explosions.
Astronomers are observing star-forming regions in our galaxy with NASA’s flying telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, to understand the processes and environments required to create the largest known stars, which tip the scales at ten times the mass of our own Sun or more.