Presentation #223.04 in the session New Worlds/Time Domain: Stars and Solar System.
More than half of the energy output of galaxies is in the form of mid- to far-infrared radiation at 5-500 μm; consequently, the infrared is a tool of significant importance in our pursuit of understanding star formation and galaxy evolution. The Astro2020 Decadal Survey recognizes the importance of the infrared, as nearly half of the questions raised by the Decadal can be studied with the tools of infrared astronomy. In this talk, I will first review some of the scientific highlights of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission in the field of extragalactic astronomy, such as (among others) 1) how observations of local analogs to high-redshift galaxies enable studies of the dust, star formation, and star formation history properties of these systems, 2) how observations of high-redshift galaxies can help constrain the AGN and star forming contributions to far-infrared luminosity, and 3) how polarization observations at far-infrared wavelengths can reveal the geometry of the magnetic fields of galaxies and star forming regions, and help us understand how galaxies exchange metal enriched gas with their surrounding environment and the role of magnetic fields in star formation at the sub-parsec scale. Following this review, I will discuss how these SOFIA results pave the path for future important research areas in far-infrared extragalactic astronomy, including synergies with multi-messenger and time domain astronomy.