(CNN) — The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, NASA's upcoming observatory expected to launch in the mid-2020s, could reveal a multitude of rogue planets that don't orbit stars in our Milky Way galaxy, according to new research.
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope could reveal a multitude of rogue planets that don't orbit stars in our Milky Way galaxy, according to new research. These exoplanets aren't locked in orbits around stars that way Earth orbits the sun.
The telescope, named in honor of the agency's first chief of astronomy, is equipped with a powerful 2.4-meter mirror that will allow it to search for exoplanets. The telescope will stare at large swaths of the sky and watch for gravitational microlensing events, where a planet and the star it orbits pass in front of a background star.
Microlensing occurs when the presence of something massive can actually warp space-time, like black holes, but it can also occur around planets.
For instance, if a rogue planet is in alignment with a distant star, the light from that star will essentially bend around the planet, resulting in a magnifying effect. Researchers can use the changes in light around the planet to measure the planet's mass. — Ashley Strickland, CNN/@CNN