SOFIA is an 80/20 partnership of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), consisting of an extensively modified Boeing 747SP aircraft carrying a 2.7-meter (106 inch) reflecting telescope (with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters or 100 inches). The aircraft is based at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, Calif. The SOFIA Program Office is at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., which manages SOFIA's science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA; Columbia, Md.) and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI; University of Stuttgart).

SOFIA magnetic field streamlines are shown over the Whirlpool galaxy

Magnetic field streamlines detected by SOFIA are shown over an image of the Whirlpool galaxy from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. For the first time, SOFIA’s infrared view shows that the magnetic fields in the outer arms do not follow the galaxy’s spiral shape and are instead distorted. The intense star formation activity in these regions, shown in red, may be causing the chaos, along with the forces from the yellow neighboring galaxy tugging on one of the spiral arms.
(NASA, the SOFIA science team, A. Borlaff; NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA))

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A Spiral Galaxy’s Invisible, Opposing Arms

by Anashe Bandari NGC 7479 – also known as Caldwell 44 – is a barred spiral galaxy, with a bar-shaped center filled with stars, as is characteristic of the majority of spiral galaxies, and S-shaped arms. But looking at features of NGC 7479 that are hidden to the naked eye reveals another pair of S-shaped …