SOFIA Highlights: Extragalactic

C+ line luminosity as a function of FIR luminosity

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.

Image of Cigar Galaxy with its magnetic field shown as streamlines over red outflow, yellow dust, and black and white stars

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.

Illustration of the Cygnus A galaxy showing the dusty donut-shaped surroundings, jets launching from its center, and magnetic fields trapping dust around it.

By Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez, Kassandra Bell, and Joan Schmelz (USRA)

Paper: The Highly Polarized Dusty Emission Core of Cygnus A
Lopez-Rodriguez, Enrique, et al., 2018, ApJL, 861, L23.

Artist illustration of the thick ring of dust that can obscure the energetic processes that occur near the supermassive black hole of an active galactic nuclei.

Researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio using observations from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, found that the dust surrounding active, ravenous black holes are much more compact than previously thought.

Ionized Carbon at the Center of Galaxy IC 342

SOFIA made observations of ionized carbon (CII) at the center of IC 342 galaxy using the GREAT (German REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz frequencies) far-IR spectrometer in September 2011 as part of the mission’s Early Science program.