Purpose of the Program

Use FORCAST to image the inner galaxy and obtain mid-infrared colors of all objects in the region (notably, those saturated in Spitzer images).

Principal Investigator

Matthew Hankins (Caltech; University of Arkansas)

Proposal ID and Data Access


Proposal Abstract

The Galactic Center presents the most extreme conditions for star formation, containing more than 80 percent of the Milky Way Galaxy’s dense molecular gas, high temperatures, significant turbulence, complex magnetic fields, and a strong gravitational potential well. Despite the large amount of dense gas, observations reveal that the rate of star formation is only 0.1 solar masses per year out of the 1.2 solar masses per year produced by the entire galaxy -- 10 times less than predictions by current theoretical models. This program aims at providing high-quality mosaics of bright infrared regions within the Galactic Center using the Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST), which excels at producing images and spectroscopic data from infrared-bright areas. The FORCAST 25- and 37-micron bands will be used to create a searchable mid-infrared map of the Galactic Center and a point source catalog with an unprecedented spatial resolution -- six times higher than past observations. These infrared maps will greatly aid in the creation of a census of massive young stellar objects, thereby updating constraints for the star formation rate in the Galactic Center and improve star formation models for this region.


M. J. Hankins, R. M. Lau, J. T. Radomski, A. S. Cotera, M. R. Morris, E. A. C. Mills, D. L. Walker, A. T. Barnes, J. P. Simpson, T. L. Herter, S. N. Longmore, J. Bally, M. M. Kasliwal, N. B. Sabha, and M. García-Marin, SOFIA/FORCAST Galactic Center Legacy Survey: Overview. The Astrophysical Journal 894, 55 (2020).