Science results
Spotlight Image
Occultation Confirms Haze in Pluto’s Atmosphere

By Kassandra Bell, Arielle Moullet, and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Haze in Pluto’s atmosphere: Results from SOFIA and Ground-based Observations of the 2015 June 29 Pluto Occultation
 M. J. Person et al., 2020, Icarus, in press.

Pluto horizon showing atmosphere
Cold Quasars and the Evolution of Galaxies

By Kevin Cooke, Allison Kirkpatrick, and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Dying of the Light: An X-Ray Fading Cold Quasar at z ~ 0.405
Cooke, K. C. et al., 2020 ApJ 903 106

Illustration of active black hole at center of galaxy with blue stars surrounded by ring of dust
The Optical Depth of [CII]: the Implications for Galaxies both Near and Far

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.

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

By Casey Honniball, Paul Lucey, and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Molecular water detected on the sunlit Moon by SOFIA
C.I. Honniball, et al., Nature Astronomy 2020.

Researchers using SOFIA have made the first-ever detection of the water molecule (H2O) on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery refines our understanding of the behavior of water and how volatile elements and compounds interact with airless bodies throughout the Solar System and beyond.

Illustration of Moon with call-out showing water molecules
Molecular Processing in the Disks of Massive Stars

By Andrew Barr, Alexander Tielens, and Joan Schmelz

Paper: High-resolution Infrared Spectroscopy of Hot Molecular Gas in AFGL 2591 and AFGL 2136: Accretion in the Inner Regions of Disks around Massive Young Stellar Objects
Barr, Andrew G., et al., 2020/09, ApJ, 900, 104.

A dusty disc rotating around a massive newborn star that is glowing
A Magnetic Hourglass Detection for a Low-Mass Protostar

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.

Lupus I cloud complex with inset showing HAWC+ total intensity image of IRAS 15398-3359
Magnetized Filamentary Gas Flows in Serpens South

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).

Magnetic fields observed by SOFIA shown as streamlines on a Spitzer image of Serpens South Cluster
The Chemical Enrichment of the Universe

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.

Artist concept with Mira star and helix strand
SOFIA Reveals the Complex Nature of a 'Simple' Star Formation Tracer

By Yoko Okada, University of Cologne

Paper: First Detection of [13C II] in the Large Magellanic Cloud
Y. Okada, et al., 2019, A&A, 631L, 12O.

Spectrum of [13CII] emission in star-forming region N159W on an image of the Large Magellanic Cloud
The Role of the Magnetic Field in the Galactic Center

By Joan Schmelz (USRA)

Magnetic fields over a blue and gray image of a bright ring at the center of the Milky Way galaxy
Signatures of Star Formation in the Galactic Center

By Matthew Hankins
Paper: SOFIA/FORCAST Galactic Center Legacy Survey: Overview
Hankins et al., 2020, ApJ.

SOFIA’s first completed legacy program provides researchers with a vastly improved view of warm dust in the center of the Galaxy, revealing signatures of star formation in exquisite detail. 

Composite infrared image of the center of our Milky Way Galaxy
Massive Star Formation in the Omega Nebula

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.

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

Science Results Archive