Scientists May Have Found The First Exomoon

Scientists May Have Found The First Exomoon

Like its moon, Kepler-1625b is also bigger than its counterparts in the Solar System. The researchers say this may yield new insights into the development of planetary systems and may cause experts to revisit theories of how moons form around planets.

But these extrasolar satellites had lingered at the limits of detection with current techniques.

"The first exomoon is obviously an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence", Teachey told reporters in a teleconference organized by the journal that published the findings. They believe it's orbiting a gas giant.

To detect exoplanets, astronomers usually observe their transit, which shows up when a star's brightness dips, indicating that a planet is passing in front of it.

"We noticed a certain refractive index, and deviations in the light curve that caught our attention", explained Kipping.

The pair of scientists were able to use their observations to secure 40 hours time on the Hubble space telescope.

The planet was observed by Hubble before and during its 19-hour-long transit.

The researchers analyzed data from 284 Kepler-discovered planets, measuring transit-the momentary dimming of light as a planet passes in front of its star. 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. This could cause a wobble in the planet's orbit, causing it to deviate from its predicted location and transit its star earlier than expected.

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Hints of a moon orbiting the planet called Kepler-1625b were first detected a year ago, but the pair used Hubble to analyse the region in greater detail. This is called a "planetary wobble" and is caused by gravitational pull of another celestial body. Self-consistent photodynamical modeling suggests that the planet is likely several Jupiter masses, while the exomoon has a mass and radius similar to Neptune.

Alex Tichy (Alex Teachey) and David Kipping (David Kipping) from Columbia University reported the discovery of azospermia by the Hubble space telescope. My heart started beating a little faster, and I just kept looking at that signature. "And if validated, the planet-moon system-a Jupiter with a Neptune-sized moon-would be a remarkable system with unanticipated properties, in many ways echoing the unexpected discovery of hot Jupiters in the early days of planet hunting".

Intriguingly this is close to the ratio in size between the Earth and its moon, said the researchers. In this search, a moon would have been among the easiest to detect because of its large size.

In the Solar system known eight major planets and their satellites about 200. Kepler-1625b-i is roughly the size of our own ice giant Neptune. They also shift position with each orbit.

The transit timing variation seen in the Kepler-1625b data could similarly be due to the presence of an unseen outer planet, perturbing the orbit of the gas giant.

The exomoon is exponentially larger than our solar system's biggest moon.

Astronomers used data and observations from the Kepler and Hubble space telescopes to study the distant star, planet and possible moon. However, both bodies are considered to be gaseous and, therefore, unsuitable for life as we know it. This particular planet - or exoplanet - is about the same distance from its star as Earth is to the sun.

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