A new study conducted by researchers at The Ohio State University posits that NASA’s upcoming launch of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope could reveal that rogue planets (those that float in space without orbiting a sun) outnumber the stars in the Milky Way. The telescope—which is named for NASA’s first chief astronomer—promises a field of view 100 times greater than that of the Hubble and will be “10 times more sensitive to these objects than existing efforts.” Since rogue (or free-floating) planets have historically been difficult to see, this could be a massive breakthrough. “The universe could be teeming with rogue planets and we wouldn’t even know it,” Scott Gaudi (professor of astronomy and co-author of the paper) says. “We would never find out without undertaking a thorough, space-based microlensing survey like Roman is going to do.” The mission will commence within the next five years, and will cover some 24,000 light years in space. To find out more about rogue planets and the telescope itself, visit Phys.org.
Image courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center