NASA’s Roman Space Telescope: Peering into the Unknown Gaps of Dark Matter Around Andromeda
NASA’s Roman Space Telescope, set to launch in 2027, will study gaps in streams of stars around the Andromeda galaxy to gain new insights into the nature of dark matter. Dark matter makes up about 27% of the universe but cannot be directly observed because it does not interact with light.
However, its gravitational influence on galaxies reveals its presence. The Roman telescope aims to map disturbances and gaps within globular cluster streams – long ribbons of stars orbiting galaxies. According to researchers, clumps of dark matter passing through these streams could create observable gaps.
The Roman telescope’s Wide Field Instrument, with 18 detectors, will provide images of Andromeda 200 times larger than Hubble’s near-infrared camera, with slightly better resolution. This will enable detecting individual stars within the streams, something not possible before. Lead researcher Christian Aganze states Roman “will be able to take a huge snapshot of Andromeda,” delivering unprecedented detail.
While previous observations were limited to the Milky Way, Roman will be the first telescope capable of studying globular cluster streams around other nearby galaxies. Researchers predict this will reveal gaps likely caused by dark matter sub-halos, providing new data on their properties and mass distributions.
The Roman telescope joins upcoming ESA and ground-based observatories also hunting for dark matter signatures. Together, these missions promise to significantly advance our understanding of dark matter and the large-scale structure of the universe. After launch in 2027, the Roman telescope could reveal key insights into dark matter within as little as one hour of observation time.