NASA’s Roman telescope could spot Earth-like planets

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The James Webb Space Telescope may be capturing all the headlines now, but NASA also has big plans for another space telescope: Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Launched in 2027, the novel will survey the sky in infrared wavelengths to learn about important topics in cosmology such as dark energy, as well as conduct a census. exoplanets. Now NASA has shared more information about the types of planets that Roman could find, including the possibility of taking the first image of a world similar to Jupiter.

The novel will be armed with a coronagraph designed to block light from very bright objects such as stars to allow observation of the planets around them, opening up the possibility of directly visualizing the planets. This is exciting because most of the exoplanets now discovered are revealed indirectly by looking at the star around which they revolve. The ability to directly display an exoplanet can provide more information, such as about the planet’s atmosphere.

NASA’s Roman Nancy Grace Space Telescope is named after NASA’s first head of astronomy. NASA

“We will be able to detect the worlds in visible light with the help of a Roman coronagraph,” said Rob Zellem, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is working on the novel. statement. “This from space will help us see smaller, older and colder planets than the direct picture usually shows, which will bring us closer to planets like Earth.”

It also opens up more possibilities in the type of planets that could be discovered. Most of the techniques used to detect exoplanets now find large young planets that glow brightly and are usually located far from their host star. These factors make it easier to detect them using modern methods. But Roman’s coronagrapher could spot rocky planets the size of Earth, perhaps even in a zone of sun-like stars. In addition, he could see planets in the wavelength of visible light rather than in the infrared wavelength, which is more commonly used today.

“To detect Earth-like planets, we need 10,000 times better performance than modern instruments,” said Vanessa Bailey, a astronomer with the JPL and instrumental technologist at the Roman Coronagraph. “The coronagraph will work several hundred times better than modern instruments, so we will be able to see Jupiter-like planets that are more than 100 million times weaker than the host stars.”

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NASA’s Roman telescope could spot Earth-like planets

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