SOFIA Highlights: Star formation

Average spectra of the [CII] emission for M17 SW superposed on a composite image

By Cristian Guevara and Joan Schmelz

Paper: [C II] 158 µm self-absorption and optical depth effects
Guevara, C., et al., 2020/04, A&A, 636A, A16.

Photodissociation Regions (PDRs) are zones of the interstellar medium in which Far-UV photons dominate the thermal balance, chemistry, structure, as well as the distribution of the gas and dust. The incident FUV field photodissociates molecules, photoionizes atoms and molecules, and heats the gas and dust.

Lupus I cloud complex with inset showing HAWC+ total intensity image of IRAS 15398-3359

By Elena Redaelli and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Magnetic Properties of the Protostellar Core IRAS 15398-3359
E. Redaelli, et al., 2019 A&A, 631, A154.

Magnetic fields observed by SOFIA shown as streamlines on a Spitzer image of Serpens South Cluster

By Thushara Pillai and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Magnetized filamentary gas flows feeding the young embedded cluster in Serpens South
Pillai, T.G., et al., 2020, Nat Astron (2020).

Composite image of the Swan Nebula in blue, green and red.

By Wanggi Lim and Joan Schmelz
Paper: Surveying the Giant H ii Regions of the Milky Way with SOFIA. II. M17
Lim, et al., 2020, ApJ, 888, 98.

Artist’s concept illustrating a catastrophic collision between two rocky exoplanets

By Maggie Thompson, Ralph Shuping, and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Studying the Evolution of Warm Dust Encircling BD +20 307 Using SOFIA
Thompson, Maggie A., et al., 2019, ApJ, 875, 45.

Recent observations from SOFIA of a binary star system designated BD +20 307 indicate that there may have been a catastrophic collision between two planets within the last 10 years.

A cosmic light show sparked by the formation of massive stars in the W51 stellar nursery

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.

Orion nebula bubble

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

Orion Dragon movie screenshot

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.

Star cluster forming from collision of molecular clouds surrounded by green atomic envelopes

By Kassandra Bell and Joan Schmelz (USRA)

Paper: The Inception of Star Cluster Formation Revealed by [CII] Emission Around an Infrared Dark Cloud
Bisbas, Tan et al. 2018, MNRAS, 478, L54.