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Magnetic fields in NGC 1086, or M77, are shown as streamlines over a visible light and X-ray composite image of the galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Array, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The magnetic fields align along the entire length of the massive spiral arms — 24,000 light years across (0.8 kiloparsecs) — implying that the gravitational forces that created the galaxy’s shape are also compressing the its magnetic field. This supports the leading theory of how the spiral arms are forced into their iconic shape known as “density wave theory.” SOFIA studied the galaxy using far-infrared light (89 microns) to reveal facets of its magnetic fields that previous observations using visible and radio telescopes could not detect. Credits: NASA/SOFIA; NASA/JPL-Caltech/Roma Tre Univ.
How to Shape a Spiral Galaxy

4 days ago

Our Milky Way galaxy has an elegant spiral shape with long arms filled with stars, but exactly how…
Exoplanets’ Collision Wreckage Seen by Astronomers

October 29, 2019

The history of our Solar System is punctuated with collisions. Collisions helped create the terrestrial planets and end…
Magnetic Field May Be Keeping Milky Way’s Black Hole Quiet

June 12, 2019

Supermassive black holes exist at the center of most galaxies, and our Milky Way is no exception. But…
Comet Provides New Clues to Origins of Earth’s Oceans

May 25, 2019

The mystery of why Earth has so much water, allowing our “blue marble” to support an astounding array…
Image of planetary nebula NGC 7027 with illustration of helium hydride molecules. In this planetary nebula, SOFIA detected helium hydride, a combination of helium (red) and hydrogen (blue), which was the first type of molecule to ever form in the early universe. This is the first time helium hydride has been found in the modern universe. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble Processing: Judy Schmidt
The Universe’s First Type of Molecule Is Found at Last

April 19, 2019

The first type of molecule that ever formed in the universe has been detected in space for the…
SOFIA Follows the Sulfur for Clues on Stellar Evolution

April 11, 2019

The high-flying SOFIA telescope is shedding light on where some of the basic building blocks for life may…
SOFIA Captures Cosmic Light Show of Star Formation

March 30, 2019

When massive stars — many times larger than our Sun— are born, they shine hot and bright before…
Weighing Galactic Wind Provides Clues to Evolution of Galaxies

March 6, 2019

The Cigar Galaxy (M82) is famous for its extraordinary speed in making new stars, with stars being born…
Magnetic fields in the Orion Nebula, shown as stream lines over an infrared image taken by the Very Large Telescope in Chile, are regulating the formation of new stars. SOFIA’s HAWC+ instrument is sensitive to the alignment of dust grains, which line up along magnetic fields, letting researchers infer the direction and strength. Credits: NASA/SOFIA/D. Chuss et al. and European Southern Observatory/M.McCaughrean et al.
SOFIA Uncovers Clues to the Evolution of Universe and Search for Life

February 21, 2019

A compilation of scientific results from The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, reveal new clues to how…
Lifting the Veil on Star Formation in the Orion Nebula

January 29, 2019

The stellar wind from a newborn star in the Orion Nebula is preventing more new stars from forming…
NASA Telescopes Take a Close Look at the Brightest Comet of 2018

December 21, 2018

As the brilliant comet 46P/Wirtanen streaked across the sky, NASA telescopes caught it on camera from multiple angles.…
History of Airborne Astronomy at NASA

September 26, 2018

Sixty years ago, in 1958, NASA was founded as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The agency has…
What Stars Will Hatch From The Tarantula Nebula? NASA’s Flying Observatory Seeks to Find Out

January 13, 2018

To have a full picture of the lives of massive stars, researchers need to study them in all…
New SOFIA Observations Help Unravel Mysteries of the Birth of Colossal Suns

January 11, 2018

Astronomers are observing star-forming regions in our galaxy with NASA’s flying telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy,…
Astronomy from the Stratosphere: Results from NASA’s SOFIA Airborne Telescope

January 10, 2018

Astronomers from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, Northwestern University, and the University of Maryland were on…
What is the Radial Velocity Method?

December 23, 2017

Welcome back to our series on Exoplanet-Hunting methods! Today, we look at another widely-used and popular method of…
Does New Horizons’ Next Target Have a Moon?

December 13, 2017

Scientists were already excited to learn this summer that New Horizons’ next flyby target – a Kuiper Belt…
Catching the Shadow of a Neptunian Moon

October 2, 2017

Researchers on the flying observatory SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, are preparing for a two-minute opportunity…
An Eclipse by Any Other Name: Doing Science with Transits and Occultations

August 18, 2017

An otherworldly atmosphere takes hold when a total solar eclipse blocks the Sun’s light, yet the mechanics of…
SOFIA to Make Advance Observations of Next New Horizons Flyby Object

July 11, 2017

On July 10, researchers using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, will attempt to study the…
New Horizons Team Digs into New Data on Next Flyby Target

June 14, 2017

It was the most technically-challenging and complex stellar occultation observation campaign ever attempted: At least 54 observing teams…
SOFIA Finds Cool Dust Around Energetic Active Black Holes

June 14, 2017

Researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio using observations from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA,…
SOFIA Confirms Nearby Planetary System is Similar to Our Own

May 3, 2017

NASA’s flying observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, recently completed a detailed study of a nearby…
Don’t Judge an Asteroid by its Cover: Mid-infrared Data from SOFIA Shows Ceres’ True Composition

January 20, 2017

New observations show that Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt, does not appear to have the…
NASA Flying Observatory Makes Observations of Jupiter Previously Only Possible from Space

January 6, 2017

For the first time since the twin Voyager spacecraft missions in 1979, scientists have produced far-infrared maps of…
Moth’s Eye Inspires Critical Component on SOFIA’s Newest Instrument

December 21, 2016

Nature, and more particularly a moth’s eye, inspired the technology that allows a new NASA-developed camera to create…
NASA’s Flying Observatory Expanding New Frontiers in the Solar System and Beyond

November 16, 2016

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, will soon be studying Neptune’s giant moon, Triton, and following-up on…
SOFIA Detects Collapsing Clouds Becoming Young Suns

October 7, 2016

Researchers on board NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, observed the collapse of portions of six interstellar…
“Kitchen Smoke” Molecules in Nebula Offer Clues to the Building Blocks of Life

August 17, 2016

Using data collected by NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and other observatories, an international team of…
Gluttonous Star May Hold Clues to Planet Formation

June 15, 2016

In 1936, the young star FU Orionis began gobbling material from its surrounding disk of gas and dust…
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