The SMO reserved up to 20 hours of time on SOFIA in Cycle 9 for regular proposals in support of JWST Early Release Science (ERS) proposals. To be eligible for this reserved time, proposals must support the science program of an accepted JWST ERS proposal and justify the synergy enabled by SOFIA observations and the need for SOFIA time. These JWST-ERS support observations will have no proprietary period and will become public immediately upon pipeline processing and verification. 

Accepted Programs

Proposal ID: 09_0055

Principal Investigator: Omnarayani Nayak (Space Telescope Science Institute)

Instrument: GREAT

Title: Studying Gas Heating Mechanisms of a Super Star Cluster with SOFIA

Abstract: The N79 South giant molecular cloud (GMC) harbors one of the highest densities of embedded massive young stellar objects (YSOs) in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). However the exact formation mechanism of the YSOs, which depend on how the parental gas is being heated and cooled, remains a mystery. At the heart of N79 South lies the embedded super star cluster (SSC) candidate H72.97-69.39. We propose to investigate H72.97-69.39 by analyzing the emission of the [OI] 63 μm and [OI] 145 µm lines in the N79 South GMC that is host to the SSC candidate. Whether mechanical heating from shocks or radiative heating from PDRs plays a more dominant role has long been debated. We will determine if [OI] 63 µm and [OI] 145 µm lines are in agreement with our predictions using PDR modeling, or if the presence of shocks is necessary to explain the fluxes we measure with SOFIA/GREAT Cycle 9 observations. With SOFIA/GREAT Cycle 9 observations of [OI] 63 µm and [OI] 145 µm lines, we will shed light on which of the two heating mechanisms plays a more important role in early-stage star formation. JWST GTO observations will give us a census of YSOs in the H72.97-69.39 region down to 1 M⊙. SOFIA/GREAT Cycle 9 observations will provide crucial and complementary information on the nature of the parental gas in which YSOs are forming.


Proposal ID: 09_0070

Principal Investigator: Sylvain Veilleux (University of Maryland College Park)

Instrument: HAWC+

Title: The Bolometric Luminosities of Two Heavily Reddened Wind-Dominated Quasars Targeted in a JWST ERS Program

Abstract: Quasar activity almost certainly impacts the evolution of massive galaxies but the details are still uncertain. JWST Early Release Science program #1335 entitled "Q-3D: Imaging Spectroscopy of Quasar Hosts with JWST Analyzed with a Powerful New PSF Decomposition and Spectral Analysis Package" will address this question by mapping the spectacular large-scale winds in three red and obscured quasars covering a wide range of cosmic times from redshifts z = 0.4 to 2.9. The JWST data will allow for the first time to map the stellar component, multi-phase gas, and dust emission of distant quasar hosts all at once. However, a major weakness of this program is that the bolometric luminosities of two of the three targets are poorly constrained. This quantity has been shown in recent years to be the single most reliable predictor of the outflow energetics, perhaps an indication that radiation pressure is the main driving force behind these large-scale quasar winds although this explanation is not unique. The spectral energy distributions (SEDs) are expected to peak in the far-infrared (FIR), but photometry at these wavelengths is lacking. The proposed HAWC+ FIR observations on these two quasars will capture the flux near the expected SED peak, and thus reduce the uncertainties on the bolometric luminosity of each quasar by factors of 2-3. The revised luminosities will be combined with existing ground-based outflow dynamical measurements to determine where these two objects fit along the trends between outflow energetics and AGN luminosities seen in other less extreme systems, and whether an additional force other than radiation pressure (e.g., thermal, cosmic ray, and jet ram pressures) is needed to explain these more powerful outflows. This analysis will be revisited once the JWST data become available.


Proposal ID: 09_0163

Principal Investigator: Noel Richardson (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)

Instrument: FORCAST

Title: The spectroscopic signature of new dust forming around WR137

Abstract: Classical carbon-rich Wolf-Rayet (WCd) stars are often found in binary systems where the winds of the WCd star and an O star companion can collide, mix, and form dust. Dust formation in WC binaries occurs on short (millions of years) timescales and can occur even in environments near zero metallicity, so it's feasible that WCd binaries may have played an important role in producing the first dust in the Universe if the star formation processes were similar and produced large numbers of massive binaries. Thus, our understanding of these rare systems may be of cosmological importance. We propose a program to observe the long-period, dust-forming, Wolf-Rayet binary WR137 as it approaches its next periastron passage. The stars in this system are well studied and have even been interferometrically resolved, allowing us to pinpoint many physical and chemical processes that contribute to dust formation. Our proposed SOFIA observations during Cycle 9 will enable a search for the spectroscopic signatures of the precursor molecules created early on in the dust formation episode. We will fit the SED from the dust in order to understand the molecular composition and temperature as the wind collision density increases as the stars approach periastron passage and dust begins to condense. Very few WCd systems have been observed this early in a dust condensation episode, and these observations will be able to be compared with JWST/ERS observations made with NIRISS, allowing for both an understanding of the dust composition from SOFIA as well as its geometric distribution from JWST.