NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is expected to launch by May 2027 and hold significant potential to shed light on the enigmatic nature of dark matter.

One of the goals of the telescope is to investigate the voids in stellar streams, especially those coming from globular clusters that are in orbit around the Galactic center. By examining the disruptions and gaps found in these heavenly streams, the team, headed by Stanford University’s Christian Aganze, hopes to increase our understanding of dark matter.

With Roman’s accuracy, mapping the universe

Expected to transform observational capabilities, Roman’s Wide Field Instrument has eighteen detectors. This telescope is positioned to take incredibly detailed pictures of the Andromeda galaxy, with an image size 200 times larger than that of the near-infrared camera on the Hubble Space Telescope and a slightly higher resolution. Aganze says that “Roman will be able to take a huge snapshot of the Andromeda galaxy, which simply isn’t possible with any other telescope.” Unprecedented clarity in astronomical observations is anticipated as a result of this increased resolution, which should allow for the detection of individual stars within globular cluster streams.

Dark matter, which makes up about 27% of the universe, does not interact with light, making it impossible to observe directly. But a major indirect indicator is its impact on galaxies, especially in explaining rotational patterns. Northwestern University’s Tjitske Starkenburg highlights, “We see dark matter’s effect on galaxies,” emphasizing the necessity for extra mass in galaxy rotation models—a mass that dark matter could potentially account for.

Globe-wide cluster streams: their function

Investigating dark matter can be aided by globular cluster streams, which are described as cosmic ribbons trailing and leading their originating clusters. According to the study, there may be visible gaps formed by dark matter clumps piercing through these streams. The unparalleled capabilities of the Roman Space Telescope will enable scientists to investigate nearby galaxies for the first time, thereby greatly expanding the dataset for thin stellar streams, in contrast to earlier observations that were restricted to the Milky Way.

Roman is expected to interact with nearby galaxies effectively, providing important data in as little as one hour of observation time, according to the research team. The relationship between globular cluster streams and dark matter sub-halos is also conjectured in this study. “If these sub-halos are present in other galaxies, we predict that we will see gaps in globular cluster streams that are likely caused by dark matter,” says Tjitske Starkenburg, summarizing the expectation. This in turn offers fresh perspectives on the characteristics and masses of dark matter halos.

The universe as it appears to dark matter researchers

Along with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Euclid mission of the European Space Agency, the Roman Space Telescope is getting ready for launch. All of these projects have the potential to fundamentally change how we think about dark matter by supplying useful information that will improve simulations and help us understand the large-scale structure of the universe.

To sum up, according to a NASA release, the Roman Space Telescope is poised to conduct a ground-breaking investigation into the voids between stars, which could reveal previously undiscovered aspects of the universe and possibly resolve the enigma surrounding dark matter.

Topics #Dark Matter #NASA #Roman Space Telescope #Space Telescope #Stellar Streams #universe