The Nancy Grace Roman Telescope is destined to become one of the largest telescopes ever created. With a wider field of view larger than Hubble, this next-generation telescope, formerly known as WFIRST, is expected to be able to discover at least 100.000 planets.
The Roman Telescope will study the sky using two methods to detect exoplanets. The first of these techniques, the transit method, measures the drops of light from a star as a planet passes "in front" of its stellar parent as seen from Earth. The second method, gravitational micro-softening, notes the slight increases in light caused by the presence of an exoplanet.
Most exoplanets discovered so far have been found using the transit method, which is the easiest way to locate a planet, but only works for systems where an exoplanet passes between the star and Earth.
Astronomers now know about 4.400 planets orbiting other stars. Of these, about 2.800 were discovered using the spacecraft transit method Kepler (which completed its mission in 2018).
The same technique is currently used by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
While the transit method works best for systems where the exoplanet revolves around its parent star, gravitational micro-softening is more useful in systems where the planet revolves away from its star. Volumes of this data have already been recorded, some of them implying unknown exoplanets, awaiting confirmation from researchers.
The Nancy Grace Roman telescope is likely to find "rogue planets" - worlds that travel through space, without committing to any star. These planets are thought to range in size from small, rocky worlds smaller than Mars to gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn. Some of them may be accompanied by moons.
About three-quarters of the planets found by the Nancy Grace Roman telescope are likely to be gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn, or ice giants similar to Uranus and Poseidon.
An advantage of the Roman telescope is the wide field of view. This instrument is designed to see large samples of the sky with every observation.
The Nancy Grace Roman Telescope will be able to capture images at a resolution equal to the Hubble, but with a field of view 100 times larger than this instrument. Every day, it collects 500 times more data than the corresponding.
The Nancy Grace Roman telescope will look much deeper into the Galaxy than previous missions. This instrument will spend months looking at a point in the sky, allowing it to find hundreds of unknown planets.
Future astronomers will spend years or decades looking at data collected by the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope in search of planets beyond our solar system.
Source of information: thenextweb.com