NASA’s next-generation satellite telescope, which is presently under construction, will observe hundreds of exploding stars known as supernovae across large swaths of time and space.
Astronomers hope to shed light on various cosmic riddles via these studies, which provide a window into the universe’s distant past and foggy present.
Previously called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, it has been renamed the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope in honour of NASA’s first Chief of Astronomy, Nancy Grace Roman.
Roman’s supernova study will help reconcile conflicting estimates of the universe’s current expansion rate and even give a new method for probing the distribution of dark matter, which can be detected only via its gravitational effects.
One of the mission’s key research objectives is to use supernovae to better characterize dark energy — the mysterious cosmic pressure that accelerates the expansion of the universe, according to the US space agency.
“Dark energy accounts for the vast bulk of the universe, but we have no idea what it is,” said Jason Rhodes, a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
“By eliminating alternative theories, Roman has the potential to revolutionize our knowledge of the cosmos — and dark energy is only one of the many subjects the mission will investigate!”
Roman will research dark energy using a variety of ways. One method is searching the sky for a rare form of exploding star known as a Type Ia supernova.
Additionally, astronomers will utilize Roman to investigate the light emitted by these supernovae in order to determine how swiftly they seem to be traveling away from us. By comparing the rate at which they recede at various distances, astronomers can track the expansion of the universe throughout time. This will enable us to determine if and how dark energy has changed throughout the course of the universe’s history.
Roman’s infrared vision, a massive range of view, and exquisite sensitivity will significantly expand the search, allowing astronomers to see thousands of distant type Ia supernovae.
The mission will examine dark energy’s effects throughout more than half of the universe’s history, from around four to twelve billion years ago. Exploring this mostly unexplored area will aid scientists in filling up critical gaps in the dark energy riddle.