Colloquium: Star Formation In All the Wrong Places, and Other Astronomical Puzzles, Revealed By the SOFIA Observatory

Date: 
04/15/2016 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Location: 
CP155
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s): 
Dr. Pamela Marcum (NASA)
Type of Event (for grouping events):

NASA's SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), an airborne observatory optimized for conducting astrophysical investigations across the infrared-to-sub-millimeter spectral range, is an international partnership between the U.S. and German space agencies. As an airborne telescope optimized for infrared data collection SOFIA offers the only regular access to the wide swath of infrared wavelengths obscured by Earth's lower atmosphere and unavailable to ground-based observatories.

The presentation will focus on scientific results, some surprise discoveries, and unique analysis techniques utilizing SOFIA data. One dominant theme is how stars are able to form in extreme environments such as in the Galactic Center, where energetic radiation fields and a hot, turbulent medium in the vicinity of a supermassive black hole would seemingly be unconducive to the observed prolific star production. SOFIA offers unique tools for such studies, such as the ability to reveal kinematic signatures showing the details of how a star forming cloud collapsed to its current state, as well as providing clocks capable of directly measuring the collapse timescales for comparison to theoretical predictions.

Refreshments will be served in CP 179 at 3:15 PM