A Magnetic Cigar


This is a composite image of the Cigar Galaxy (aka M82), a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. It combines visible starlight (gray) and a tracing of hydrogen gas (red) from the Kitt Peak Observatory, with near-infrared and mid-infrared starlight and dust (yellow) from SOFIA (a NASA telescope mounted on 747 which does infrared astronomy flying above most of the atmosphere) and the Spitzer Space Telescope.. A magnetic field detected by SOFIA shows up in the image as streamlines which seem to follow the outflows (red) generated by the burst of star formation in the nucleus of the galaxy.

Image Credits: NASA / SOFIA / E. Lopez-Rodriguez and Spitzer / J. Moustakas et al.

Dust Survives a Supernova


This artist’s concept illustrates Supernova 1987A as the powerful blast wave passes through its outer ring and destroys most of its dust, before the dust re-forms or grows rapidly. Observations by SOFIA, a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope, reveal that such dust — which makes up the building blocks of stars and planets — can re-form or grow immediately after the catastrophic damage caused by the supernova’s blast wave.

Video Credit: NASA