April 24, 2024

A new dimension of cosmic measurement

Refsdal Hubble Supernova

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the powerful gravity of a galaxy embedded in a huge galaxy cluster, producing multiple images of a single distant supernova far behind it. The image shows the galaxy’s location within a large galaxy cluster called MACS J1149.6+2223, located more than 5 billion light-years away. In the enlarged image of the galaxy, the arrows point to multiple images of the exploding star, called Supernova Refsdal, located 9.3 billion light years from Earth.
Credit: NASA, ESA, Steve A. Rodney (JHU), Tommaso Treu (UCLA), Patrick Kelly (UC Berkeley), Jennifer Lotz (STScI), Marc Postman (STScI), Zolt G. Levay (STScI), FrontierSN Team, GLASS Team, HFF Team (STScI), CLASH Team

Lensed Supernovas Offer Accurate, Independent Measurement

With a panoramic view 200 times greater than the NASA Roman Space Telescope Concept Illustration

NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, named in honor of NASA’s first chief astronomer, represents a pioneering leap in our quest to understand the cosmos. Set to launch in May 2027, this state-of-the-art observatory is designed to explore the mysteries of dark energy, examine exoplanets, and uncover the expansion rate of the universe with unprecedented clarity. By using advanced technologies to observe the universe in wide, detailed swaths, the Roman Space Telescope will provide critical information about the cosmos, improving our knowledge of the composition, structure and evolution of the universe. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Roman space telescope will use rare events to calculate the universe’s expansion rate

Astronomers investigating one of the most pressing mysteries of the cosmos – the rate at which the Universe is expanding – are preparing to study this puzzle in a new way, using Distant supernova multiplication represented by foreground cluster

This illustration, using images of the Hubble Space Telescope’s Refsdal Supernova, shows how the gravity of the massive galaxy cluster MACS J1149.6+2223 bends and focuses the light from a supernova behind it, resulting in multiple images of the exploding star. This phenomenon is called gravitational lensing. Gravity-lensed supernovae offer astronomers a unique way to calculate the Hubble constant – the rate at which the Universe is accelerating. A research team is now preparing astronomers to find and study these rare objects using NASA’s upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in May 2027.
The top graph shows that when the star explodes, its light travels through space and finds the foreground galaxy cluster. If the cluster were not present, astronomers would only detect light from the supernova directed directly at Earth and would only see a single image of the supernova. In the case of the multi-image supernova, however, the light paths are bent by the cluster’s gravity and redirected onto new paths, several of which are pointed toward Earth. Astronomers therefore see multiple images of the exploding star, each corresponding to one of these altered light paths. Each image follows a different path through the cluster and arrives at a different time, due in part to differences in the length of the paths the light takes to reach Earth. Accurately measuring this difference in arrival times between multiple images leads to a combination of distances that constrains the Hubble constant.
In the bottom graphic, the redirected light passes through a giant elliptical galaxy within the cluster. This galaxy adds another layer of lensing, once again redirecting several paths of light that would otherwise not reach us, and focusing them so that they reach Earth.
Credit: NASA, ESA, Ann Feild (STScI), Joseph DePasquale (STScI), NASA, ESA, Steve A. Rodney (JHU), Tommaso Treu (UCLA), Patrick Kelly (UC Berkeley), Jennifer Lotz (STScI), Marc Postman (STScI), Zolt G. Levay (STScI), Team FrontierSN, Team GLASS, Team HFF (STScI), Team CLASH

The Promise of Gravitational Lenses

“Roman is the ideal tool to enable the study of gravitationally lensed supernovae,” said Lou Strolger of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, co-leader of the team preparing for Roman’s study of these objects. “They are rare and very difficult to find. We had to be lucky to spot some of them early enough. Roman’s extensive field of view and high-resolution repeat images will help those chances.”

Using various observatories like NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and

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