Scientific Highlights
Spotlight Image
SALSA – Magnetic Fields in Galaxies

by Alejandro Serrano Borlaff & Joan Schmelz

Paper: Extragalactic magnetism with SOFIA (SALSA Legacy Program) -- V: First results on the magnetic field orientation of galaxies
Alejandro S. Borlaff, et al., 2023.

The magnetic fields of 15 extragalactic objects shown in relative angular sizes.
The Abundance Discrepancy Factor in Markarian 71

by Yuguang Chen & Joan Schmelz

Paper: Accurate Oxygen Abundance of Interstellar Gas in Mrk 71 from Optical and Infrared Spectra
Chen, Yuguang, et al., 2023/04, Nature Astronomy, tmp, 87.

Markarian 71 with plot overlaid
Magnetic Fields - A Ubiquitous Part of Galaxy Ecosystems

By Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Extragalactic magnetism with SOFIA (SALSA Legacy Program) -- IV: Program overview and first results on the polarization fraction
Lopez-Rodriguez, Enrique, et al., 2022-05-00.

Collage showing 9 galaxies with streamlines from the SALSA program
Multi-Phase [C II] Emission in Nearby Galaxies

By Elizabeth Tarantino and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Characterizing the Multiphase Origin of [C II] Emission in M101 and NGC 6946 with Velocity-resolved Spectroscopy
Tarantino, Elizabeth, et al., 2021/07, ApJ, 915, 92.

Image of M101 with pointings from SOFIA/GREAT shown as white circles and squares
Magnetically-Driven Flows in NGC 1097

By Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Extragalactic Magnetism with SOFIA (Legacy Program) - II: A Magnetically Driven Flow in the Starburst Ring of NGC 1097
Lopez-Rodriguez, Enrique, et al., 2021/12, ApJ, 923, 150.

Magnetically-driven flows feed the super massive blackhole at the center of NGC 1097. SOFIA investigated this long-standing problem of the large-scale transfer of matter from the body of the host galaxy to the active nucleus.

Starburst ring of NGC 1097 with magnetic streamlines
Evidence of [CII] Shocked Emission in NGC 7479

By Dario Fadda and Joan Schmelz

Paper: [C II] and CO Emission along the Bar and Counter-arms of NGC 7479
Fadda, Dario, et al., 2021/03, ApJ, 909, 204.

SOFIA observations of the barred spiral galaxy, NGC 7479, were able to separate shock-enhanced ionized carbon [CII] emission from that associated with star formation, reminding us that it is important to consider multiple mechanisms when studying the [CII] emission in galaxies with active nuclei.

Hubble Space Telescope image of NGC 7479 with 20 cm radio continuum contours
Magnetic Chaos Hidden Within the Whirlpool Galaxy

By Alejandro Borlaff and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Extragalactic Magnetism with SOFIA (Legacy Program). I. The Magnetic Field in the Multiphase Interstellar Medium of M51
Alejandro S. Borlaff et al 2021 ApJ 921 128

SOFIA magnetic field streamlines are shown over the Whirlpool galaxy
The Warped Magnetic Field of Centaurus A

By Enrique Lopez Rodrigues & Joan Schmelz

Paper: The Magnetic Field Across the Molecular Warped Disk of Centaurus A
Lopez-Rodriguez, E., Nat Astron (2021).

Composite image of Centaurus A
Magnetic Highway: Channeling the M82 Superwind

By Joan Schmelz

Paper: The Strength and Structure of the Magnetic Field in the Galactic Outflow of Messier 82
Lopez-Rodriguez, E., et al., 2021 ApJ 914 24

Magnetic fields in M82 are shown as lines over a visible light and infrared composite image
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
SOFIA Confirms Predictions of the Density Wave Theory in NGC 1068

By Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez and Joan Schmelz
Paper: SOFIA/HAWC+ Traces the Magnetic Felds in NGC 1068
Lopez-Rodriguez et al., 2020, ApJ, 888, 66.

SOFIA astronomers have measured, for the first time, the magnetic field tracing the star forming regions along the spiral arms of NGC 1068, the nearest grand-design spiral with an active galactic nuclei and a large-scale almost face-on disk.

Magnetic fields shown as streamlines over an image of the galaxy NGC 1068 or M77
Star Formation Across Cosmic Time

By Joan Schmelz

How do astronomers understand galaxies that are so far away that they may appear as a simple point source, even when observed with the most powerful telescopes? One proven technique is to study local analogues, galaxies that might have similar properties but are close enough to resolve their structures. A study like this was underway when researchers discovered something extraordinary – their observation was 10 times stronger than predicted.

C+ line luminosity as a function of FIR luminosity
Weighing Galactic Wind Provides Clues to Evolution of Galaxies

By Terry Jones, Arielle Moullet, Kassandra Bell, and Joan Schmelz

Paper: SOFIA Far Infrared Imaging Polarimetry of M82 and NGC 253: Exploring the Super–Galactic Wind
Jones, Terry Jay, et al., 2019, ApJL, 870, L9.

Cigar Galaxy with magnetic field shown as streamlines over red outflow, yellow dust and stars
Magnetic Fields Confine the Torus at the Core of Cygnus A

By Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez, Kassandra Bell, and Joan Schmelz (USRA)

Paper: The Highly Polarized Dusty Emission Core of Cygnus A
Lopez-Rodriguez, Enrique, et al., 2018, ApJL, 861, L23.

Illustration of Cygnus A galaxy showing dusty surroundings, jets, and magnetic fields trapping dust
SOFIA Finds Cool Dust Around Energetic Active Black Holes

Researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio using observations from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, found that the dust surrounding active, ravenous black holes are much more compact than previously thought.

Illustration of thick ring of dust near the supermassive black hole of an active galactic nuclei