The upcoming Nancy Grace Roman space telescope could uncover elusive supermassive dark stars, potentially transforming our understanding of the early universe and the genesis of supermassive black holes.
Contrasting today’s stars, the universe’s first were mainly hydrogen and helium, potentially hundreds of times larger than our sun. However, some may have been powered by concentrated dark matter, forming peculiar objects known as dark stars. The upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope could help astronomers learn more about these objects.
Dark matter and regular matter behaving similarly under gravity might have enabled clumps of dark matter to attract hydrogen and helium clouds in the early universe. The resultant energy from the dark matter could have created a mechanism akin to nuclear fusion in regular stars.
Titans, Yet Almost Invisible
These theoretical dark stars could surpass the sun’s diameter by thousands of times but have low density and faint illumination. Their distance and dimness make them undetectable by current telescopes, yet the Nancy Grace Roman space telescope may be up to the task.
Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope: Our Dark Star Detector?
Launching in May 2027, the Roman telescope will explore the distant, dim cosmos edges. Recent research suggests it might spot supermassive dark stars exceeding 100,000 solar masses. However, to improve detection, it might be paired with the James Webb Space Telescope.
The strategy proposes identifying dark star candidates with the Roman telescope, with Webb confirming them through helium emission line detection. This collaborative approach leverages each telescope’s strengths, demonstrating the benefits of integrated observation.
Bridging the Gap to Supermassive Black Holes
Success in detecting these objects could unravel the mystery of supermassive black holes’ rapid early universe formation. Dark stars, once their dark matter cores ceased energy production, could have rapidly collapsed into massive black holes, eventually becoming supermassive black holes.
The faint glow of dark stars might illuminate our understanding of the early universe, offering unprecedented insights into cosmic evolution and enigmas.
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