2027 Space Telescope Could Find 400 Rogue Planets

Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be sensitive to even lower-mass rogue planets since it will observe from space. It will have wide field of view and sharp vision which will allow us to study the objects it finds in more detail than we can do using only ground-based telescopes. In 2023, researchers estimate it could actually find about 400 rogue planets.

Scientists will couple Roman’s future data with ground-based observations from facilities such as Japan’s PRIME (Prime-focus Infrared Microlensing Experiment) telescope, located at the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland. This 1.8-meter telescope will build on MOA’s work by conducting the first wide-area microlensing survey in near-infrared light. It’s equipped with four detectors from Roman’s detector development program.

A microlensing signal from a rogue planet can take from a few hours up to about a day.Astronomers will have a chance to do simultaneous observations with Roman and PRIME ground telescope.

Seeing them from both Earth and Roman’s location a million miles away will help scientists measure the masses of rogue planets much more accurately than ever before, deepening our understanding of the worlds that grace our galaxy.

NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is set to launch by May 2027.

The Milky Way galaxy likelyhas 20 times more rogue planets than stars – trillions of worlds wandering alone.

Microlensing events occur when an object such as a star or planet comes into near-perfect alignment with an unrelated background star from our vantage point. Because anything with mass warps the fabric of space-time, light from the distant star bends around the nearer object as it passes close by. The nearer object acts as a natural lens, creating a brief spike in the brightness of the background star’s light that gives astronomers clues about the intervening object that they can’t get any other way.