Roman Space Telescope will investigate dark matter using supernovae

NASA is talking a bit about the upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. The telescope will be used to view thousands of supernovae spread across vast stretches of time and space. Astronomers intend to use the observations to solve several cosmic mysteries and provide astronomers a window into the distant past of the universe.

The supernova study conducted by the Roman space telescope hopes to clear up issues with conflicting measurements on how fast the universe is currently expanding and potentially provide a new way to investigate the distribution of dark matter in the universe. Currently, the only way scientists can detect dark matter is through its gravitational effects. A primary goal of the mission is to provide a clearer understanding of the nature of dark energy.

NASA says dark energy is an unexplained pressure that propels the increasing speed of the expansion of the universe. NASA's Jason Rhodes says that dark energy makes up most of the cosmos, but scientists have no idea what it is. The Roman mission will use multiple methods to investigate dark energy, and one involves scanning the sky for type IA supernova.

Supernovae happen when massive stars run out of fuel, collapse rapidly under their weight, and then explode due to shock waves propelled from their interior. Supernovae occur about every 50 years in the Milky Way, but type Ia supernova are much rarer, happening only once every 500 years in our galaxy. Another theory is that a collision between two white dwarf stars with a combined mass high enough could also produce a type Ia supernova.

Astronomers also plan to use the Roman Space Telescope to study the light generated by supernovae to determine how quickly they appear to be moving away from us. This will help scientists trace cosmic expansion over time and understand if dark energy has changed during the history of the universe.