Scientific Highlights
Spotlight Image
Disruption of a Planetary System

by Jonathan Marshall & Joan Schmelz

Paper: Evidence for the Disruption of a Planetary System During the Formation of the Helix Nebula
Marshall, Jonathan P., et al., 2023/01, AJ, 165, 22.

The spectral energy distribution of WD 2226-210 superposed on an image of the Helix Nebula from Hubble Space Telescope.
New Observations of Terahertz Water Masers with SOFIA

By David Neufeld & Joan Schmelz

Paper: Terahertz Water Masers. II. Further SOFIA/GREAT Detections Toward Circumstellar Outflows, and a Multitransition Analysis
Neufeld, David A., et al., 2021/01, ApJ, 907, 42.

Artist’s impression of a pulsating variable star with circumstellar envelope and water masers
The Age of Westerlund 1 Revisited

By Emma Beasor

Paper: The Age of Westerlund 1 Revisited
Beasor, Emma R., et al., 2021/05, ApJ, 912, 16.

Hubble Space Telescope image of Westerlund 1
Carbon Dioxide in R Leonis

By José Pablo Fonfría and Joan Schmelz

Paper: Detection of infrared fluorescence of carbon dioxide in R Leonis with SOFIA/EXES
Fonfrí­a, J. P., et al., 2020/11, A&A, 643L, 15.

A portion of the spectrum of R Leonis superimposed on an artistic interpretation of the star
First Astrophysical Detection of a Very Special Molecule

By Kimberly Ennico Smith

Paper: Astrophysical detection of the helium hydride ion HeH+
Güsten et al. Nature , 17 April 2019, doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1090-x

Illustration of planetary nebula NGC 7027 and helium hydride molecules
NASA’s SOFIA Finds Missing Link Between Supernovae and Planet Formation

Using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an international scientific team discovered that supernovae are capable of producing a substantial amount of the material from which planets like Earth can form.

These findings are published in the March 19 online issue of Science magazine.

"Our observations reveal a particular cloud produced by a supernova explosion 10,000 years ago contains enough dust to make 7,000 Earths," said Ryan Lau of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Sagittarius A East Supernova Remnant