A new simulation shows how NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope – due to launch in May 2027 – will turn back the cosmic clock and reveal the universe at different stages of development in a way never before possible.
With its ability to rapidly capture panoramic images of large swaths of space, the Roman telescope will help explain how the world was transformed from a primordial sea of charged particles to the intricate web of cosmic structures we see today.
the great field of view of the Roman people
“The Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes are optimized for studying astronomical objects in depth and at close range. Like peering through tiny pinholes into the universe,” said Aaron Yung, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who led the study. “To solve cosmic mysteries on the largest scales, we need a space telescope that can provide a much larger view. This is exactly what Roman wanted to do,” he added: thus combining Roman’s panoramic view with Hubble’s more extensive coverage and Webb’s more detailed observations into a more complete view of the universe will provide
Using an efficient technique, the team of researchers was able to simulate tens of millions of galaxies in less than a day, which could take years with established methods.
This simulation covers a two-square-degree segment of the sky that contains more than 5 million galaxies about 10 times the apparent size of the full moon.
After all, it is based on a well-proven model of galaxy formation, which represents our current understanding of how the universe works.
When the Roman telescope is launched into space and begins to provide real data, scientists will be able to compare it with a variety of such simulations, testing their models.
This will allow us to see the physical formation of the galaxy, dark matter, the mysterious substance observed only through the effects of its gravity – and much more.
How will the Roman help interpret the cosmic text?
In today’s cosmos, galaxies and clusters of galaxies in invisible clusters of threads of dark matter shine through the vastness of the universe.
The broad view shows us that the great structure of the world is like a web, with threads stretching hundreds of thousands of light years. Galaxies are usually found at the intersections of filaments, with vast “cosmic voids” between all the brightest filaments.
But if we could reverse the universe, we would see something very different.
Instead of the giant, burning stars scattered by the galaxies, which are also separated by immeasurable distances, we want to immerse ourselves in a sea of plasma (charged particles).
This primordial mess was almost entirely uniform, but luckily for us there were knots. Since those filaments were slightly denser than their surroundings, they would pull a little more by gravity.
A panoramic view of Rome will help us to see what the universe of things was in different ages and to fill in many gaps in our understanding. For example, while astronomers have found “coronas” of dark matter surrounding galaxies, they are still not sure how they formed.
By seeing how gravitational lensing caused by dark matter distorts the appearance of distant objects, Roman will help us see how these coronas have evolved over cosmic time.
“These simulations will be similar in connecting unprecedented studies of the romance of large galaxies with the invisible mechanisms of dark matter that make up the distribution of galaxies,” said Sangeeta Malhotra, a Goddard astrophysicist and co-author of the paper.