Astronomers may have discovered first moon outside our solar system

Astronomers may have discovered first moon outside our solar system

Astronomers may have discovered first moon outside our solar system

This is the first known large satellite of the planet outside the solar system.

The exoplanet was originally found by the transit technique, in which a planet passing in front of its host star, along our line of sight, causes the star's brightness to dim slightly (by around 1% for a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a sun-sized star) once every orbit.

Astronomers David Kipping, from Columbia University in NY and Alex Teachey are reporting and publishing the results Science Advances journal observing all the hypothesis and anomalies, comparing the data they have other planets in the system or stellar activity but they still can not explain the new discovery.

Given the conditions of that planet and its potential moon are gas giants, it is impossible to think that this planet could support life. If confirmed, it would be the first discovery of an "exomoon" in another solar system.

"A companion moon is the simplest and most natural explanation for the second dip in the light curve and the orbit-timing deviation", said Alex Teachey, a graduate student at Columbia University and one of the researchers on the project.

"If confirmed by follow-up observations, the finding could provide vital clues about the development of planetary systems and may cause experts to revisit theories of how moons form around planets", he added.

They were hoping to find a moon that was the size of Jupiter's large moons, and then requested for a more detailed observation with the Hubble telescope. This mass-ratio is similar to the one between Earth and the Moon. So, using the Hubble Telescope, they observed the planet as it passed in front of Kepler-1625.


Kipping and Teachey relied on the "transit" method already used by researchers to discover almost 4,000 planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets.

"We noticed a certain refractive index, and deviations in the light curve that caught our attention", explained KPMG. The scientists needed more time and data to confirm the discovery though, and they got it through the Hubble telescope. On the other hand, the scientists agreed that another planet in Kepler-1625b's vicinity might also cause such turbulence.

Astronomers believe they have found the first compelling evidence for an exomoon, about the size of Neptune and located 8,000 light years away. Three-and-a-half hours later, Hubble detected a much smaller dip in the star's brightness consistent with a large moon trailing the planet.

He said: "Unfortunately, the scheduled Hubble observations ended before the complete transit of the moon could be measured".

"The first exomoon is obviously an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence", Teachey told AP. It seemed to show signs of a moon: Regular and periodic - and slight - dimming of the star's light after the planet transited.

Still, moons orbiting around other planets may not be all that unusual. At this size, the moon, tentatively designated Kepler-1625b-i, is likely to be gaseous as well. If real, Nept-moon would also be gaseous, and would appear twice as big as our moon in Kepler-1625b's sky. In the case of the Earth-Moon system and the Pluto-Charon system, the moons are thought to be created through dust leftover after rocky planetary collisions. Once the James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2021, the search for exomoons may be full of possibilities.

Exomoons are hard to find because they are smaller than their companion planet and so their transit signal is weak.

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