Science Results Archive 2019

By Joan Schmelz

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.

By Kassandra Bell and Joan Schmelz

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 Darek Lis, Dominique Bockelée-Morvan, and Rolf Güsten

Paper: Terrestrial deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio in water in hyperactive comets
Lis et al., A&A 625, L5 (2019) doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201935554

By Kimberly Ennico Smith

Paper: Astrophysical detection of the helium hydride ion HeH+
Güsten et al. Nature, 17 April 2019, doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1090-x

By W. Lim, J. De Buizer, R. Klein, and J. Schmelz (USRA)

Paper: Surveying the Giant HII Regions of the Milky Way with SOFIA. I. W51A
Lim and De Buizer 2019, ApJ, 873, 51.

By Terry Jones, Arielle Moullet, Kassandra Bell, and Joan Schmelz

Paper: SOFIA Far Infrared Imaging Polarimetry of M82 and NGC 253: Exploring the Super–Galactic Wind
Jones, Terry Jay, et al., 2019, ApJL, 870, L9.

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.

By Ralph Shuping, Mikako Matsuura, Kassandra Bell, and Joan Schmelz

Paper: SOFIA Mid-infrared Observations of Supernova 1987A in 2016 — Forward Shocks and Possible Dust Re-formation in the Post-shocked Region
Matsuura, Mikako, et al., 2018, MNRAS, 2018.

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.

By Kassandra Bell and Joan Schmelz (USRA)

Paper: Disruption of the Orion molecular core 1 by wind from the massive star θ1 Orionis C
Pabst et al. 2019, Nature, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0844-1