General Astrophysics

Through a combination of archival investigations and additional observations, the mission’s science haul will extend far beyond the primary goals of untangling dark energy and discovering new worlds.

Carina Nebula Hubble mosaic

Roman will support general astrophysics goals beyond dark energy and exoplanets in two ways. First, the core community surveys will enable archival investigations. Second, at least 25 percent of the five-year primary mission will be dedicated to peer-reviewed science covering any aspect of astrophysics. 

While Roman’s core surveys are each geared toward specific science goals, the observations will contain a treasure trove of additional data. NASA will make all of Roman’s data publicly available for anyone to explore the secrets of our universe. There will be no proprietary period, ensuring multiple scientists and teams can use data at the same time, which is important since every Roman observation will address a wealth of science cases.

Roman will also reserve a substantial fraction of time for additional observations to pursue science that can't be done with the mission's core surveys. Astronomers from all over the world will have the opportunity to use Roman and propose cutting-edge research. This additional observing time will enable the astronomical community to utilize the full potential of Roman’s capabilities to conduct extraordinary science.

For example, astronomers could study the development of stellar populations by surveying the galactic plane and other nearby galaxies, perform additional time domain surveys tuned to find things like stellar novae and other kinds of outbursts, and conduct tandem observations with other facilities.

The community process to define the core surveys kicked off in early 2023. The first call for proposals for general astrophysics surveys is anticipated a year before launch.

The mission will have a General Investigator Program designed to support astronomers to reveal scientific discoveries using Roman data. This includes detailed analysis of individual objects and populations, simulations of the universe, observations with other facilities to complement Roman data, and developing new theories that could be tested with Roman data.

Carina Nebula Hubble mosaic
This image shows a ground-based view of the giant star-forming region in the southern sky known as the Carina Nebula, combining the light from three different filters tracing emission from oxygen (blue), hydrogen (green), and sulphur (red). The colour is also representative of the temperature in the ionised gas: blue is relatively hot and red is cooler. The Carina Nebula is a good example of how very massive stars rip apart the molecular clouds that give birth to them. The bright star near the centre of the image is eta Carinae, one of the most massive and luminous stars known.
Composition/A. Pagan (STScI); Background image/Nathan Smith, University of Minnesota; Hubble Image/NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); CTIO Image/N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley) and NOAO/AURA/NSF, Mystic Mountain/NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI); Eta Carinae/NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona), and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute), NASA, ESA, and J. Maiz Apellaniz (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain); Acknowledgement/N. Smith (University of Arizona)

Roman simulations of Andromeda

Andromeda covered by the Roman Space Telescope
Andromeda covered by the Roman Space Telescope
These composite figures show the region of Andromeda covered by the Roman Space Telescope simulation. It would be able to image the main body of Andromeda in just a few pointings, surveying the galaxy nearly 1500 times faster than Hubble.