NASA | Ames Research Center | USRA | SOFIA | 2018 Jan 11
Scientists are using SOFIA to survey young stars more than ten-times the mass of the Sun in an ongoing study to understand how massive stars form in our galaxy.Astronomers are observing star-forming regions in our galaxy with NASA’s flying telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, to understand the processes and environments required to create the largest known stars, which tip the scales at ten times the mass of our own Sun or more.
The research team, led by James M. De Buizer, SOFIA senior scientist, and Jonathan Tan at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden and the University of Virginia, has published observations of eight extremely massive and young stars located within our Milky Way Galaxy. SOFIA’s powerful camera, the Faint Object infraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, known as FORCAST, allowed the team to probe warm, dusty regions that are heated by light from luminous, massive stars that are still forming. SOFIA’s airborne location, flying above more than 99 percent of Earth’s infrared-blocking water vapor coupled with its powerful instruments, make it the only observatory that can study the stars at the wavelengths, sensitivity, and resolution necessary to see inside the dense dust clouds from which these stars are born.
The research is part of the ongoing SOFIA Massive (SOMA) Star Formation Survey by Tan and his collaborators. As part of this survey, they are studying a large sample of newborn stars, known as “protostars,” that have different masses, are at varying evolutionary stages, and within different environments. The team hopes to gain insight into the overall process of how massive stars form and to help test and refine new theoretical models of star formation. ...
The SOFIA Massive (SOMA) Star Formation Survey. I. Overview and First Results - James M. De Buizer et al