Published: Sun, October 07, 2018
Research | By Wilma Wheeler

Possible discovery of exomoon excites astronomers, but what is it?

Possible discovery of exomoon excites astronomers, but what is it?

"If confirmed by follow-up Hubble 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".

Kipping has spent the past decade or so working to do just that. But the results are delayed due to the limits of detection with current techniques.

"The first exomoon is obviously an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence", Teachey said. They believe it's orbiting a gas giant. However, if the Solar system is not something exceptional in the Galaxy, the number of actlon has to exceed the number of exoplanets - and sooner or later we learn to observe them.

The potential first exomoon that the astronomers have observed is thought to orbit the exoplanet Kepler-1625b.

The event of a planet passing in front of a star is called a transit, and Kepler-1625b's takes about 19 hours.

The discovery was made when Kipping and Trachey noticed that there were intriguing anomalies in the observations they made of 284 Kepler-discovered-planets. Hunter exoplanets recorded three transits past the stars, which showed the presence of an object orbiting a planet. But the team did find a second, much smaller decrease in the star's brightness, consistent with "a moon trailing the planet like a dog following its owner on a leash", Kipping explained.


"A moon is an excellent explanation to the data at hand", Kipping said.

Kepler 1625b was found to start its orbit over an hour early, a marker that something with generally solid gravity is pulling on it, substituting its focal point of gravity and influencing its orbit.

The researchers note the planetary wobble could be caused by the gravitational pull of a hypothetical second planet in the system, rather than a moon.

Alex Tichy (Alex Teachey) and David Kipping (David Kipping) from Columbia University reported the discovery of azospermia by the Hubble space telescope. Kipping and Tichy noticed a unusual anomaly in the data concerning the transit of the gas giant Kepler 1625b, which is several times more than Jupiter. Other moons, such as Neptune's largest moon Triton, may have been captured from the Kuiper belt. Researchers from the US-based Columbia University said that such a huge moon is not in our own solar system, but such 200 natural satellites have been listed. Kepler 1625b is roughly the same distance from its star as Earth is from the sun. They also shift position with each orbit. However, the search for moons orbiting these exoplanets was not successful - until today. Through the Hubble, the team studied Kepler-1625b as it passes between the star that it is orbiting, which is Kepler-1625, and the Earth.

Even though they lie within their system's habitable zone, both the exoplanet and the exomoon are gaseous and thus unsuitable for life. The moons of Jupiter and Saturn on the other hand coalesced from the debris left behind after the planets formed. As detailed in the researchers' publication, the Hubble telescope picked up a smaller dimming about 3.5 hours after the first one, suggesting a second body following the first one. Many publications facing an uncertain future can no longer afford to fund it.

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