SOFIA Highlights: Interstellar medium

Artist concept with Mira star and helix strand

By Kathleen Kraemer, Boston College and Gregory Sloan, Cornell University

Paper: Stellar Pulsation and the Production of Dust and Molecules in Galactic Carbon Stars
K. E. Kraemer, et al., 2019, ApJ, 887, 1.

Image of NGC 7023 from SOFIA and Spitzer shows different populations of PAH molecules

Using data collected by NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and other observatories, an international team of researchers has studied how a particular type of organic molecules, the raw materials for life – could develop in space. This information could help scientists better understand how life could have developed on Earth.

Sagittarius A East Supernova Remnant

Using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an international scientific team discovered that supernovae are capable of producing a substantial amount of the material from which planets like Earth can form.

These findings are published in the March 19 online issue of Science magazine.

"Our observations reveal a particular cloud produced by a supernova explosion 10,000 years ago contains enough dust to make 7,000 Earths," said Ryan Lau of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.