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 Watches a Binary Star System’s Eclipse

R Aquarii resembling a ring of fire over a black field with a purple S flowing through it.

by Anashe Bandari

With its observations of a special pair of stars at a special moment in their lives, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is shedding new light on stardust. Over an interval of 387 days, a giant star in the constellation Aquarius periodically has a dramatic change in its brightness. 

Planck magnetic streamlines on a Herschel image of Rho Ophiuchi with insets from SOFIA/HAWC+

The magnetic streamlines from Planck superposed on a three-color image of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex from Herschel. The higher-resolution insets from SOFIA/HAWC+ show clearly that the streamlines are oriented perpendicular to the structure. (ESA/Herschel/Planck; J. D. Soler, MPIA; Lee et al. 2021)

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