May NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Telescope discover 100,000 planets?

Due for launch within the mid-2020s, the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope is destined to grow to be one of many nice planet-hunting telescopes. Though the primary mirror on the coronary heart of the Roman Telescope isn’t any bigger than the one within the Hubble Area Telescope, the Roman mirror is simply 25 p.c as large as its predecessor. With a wider discipline of view higher than Hubble, this next-generation telescope, previously generally known as WFIRST, might uncover 100,000 worlds orbiting different stars.

The Roman Telescope will examine the sky in infrared wavelengths using two strategies to detect exoplanets. The primary of those methods, the transit technique, measures dips of sunshine seen from a star as a planet passes “in entrance of” its stellar father or mother as seen from Earth. The second technique, gravitational microlensing, notes slight will increase in gentle brought on by the presence of an exoplanet.

Hold squinting, you’ll see it…

Hit the play button above for a have a look at how exoplanets are discovered utilizing the transit technique, on this video offered by NASA.

Most exoplanets found up to now had been discovered utilizing the transit technique. Common, periodic dimming of a star is the best method to discover planets, but it surely solely works for techniques the place an exoplanet passes between the star and Earth.

Astronomers at present know of practically 4,400 planets orbiting different stars. Of those, about 2,800 had been found utilizing the transit technique by the Kepler spacecraft (which ended its mission in 2018).

The identical method is at present being utilized by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite tv for pc (TESS).

Hit the play button above for a have a look at how gravitational microlensing can reveal the presence of distant exoplanets, on this video by NASA.

Gravitational microlensing, a brightening of sunshine from a star, outcomes when gentle from the star bends because of the gravitational forces of an exoplanet, in a lot the identical manner as gentle bends whereas passing by a convex lens in a telescope. This phenomenon was first predicted by Albert Einstein in his Normal Principle of Relativity.

“Microlensing occasions are uncommon and happen rapidly, so you want to have a look at plenty of stars repeatedly and exactly measure brightness modifications to detect them. These are precisely the identical issues you want to do to seek out transiting planets, so by creating a sturdy microlensing survey, Roman will produce a pleasant transit survey as properly,” stated astrophysicist Benjamin Montet of the College of New South Wales in Sydney.

Credit score: NASA