Astronomers have found a second moon outside Solar system
07 October, 2018, 17:42 | Author: Emilio Conner
In a paper published to Science Advances, two scientists from Columbia University in the U.S. put forward their evidence indicating the existence of a Neptune-sized exomoon orbiting a Jupiter-sized planet 8,000 light years away.
Moons are certainly plentiful in our solar system - the four giant planets host over 200 moons between them - so it is entirely plausible that many (or even most) of the now known exoplanets - nearly 4,000 - should harbour exomoons.
NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope is expected to "clean up" the satellite search, allowing astronomers to target larger planets that are farther from their star than Earth is from the Sun.
The celestial object is "big and weird by solar system standards", said Columbia University astronomy professor David Kipping. It orbits about 1.8 million miles from its Jupiter-size planet. 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. The moon of Jupiter Ganymede has a diameter of about 5 260 km is estimated, the detected aktolun has a diameter of about 49 000 km.
It orbits its parent star at a distance similar to the distance between the Sun and Earth, which puts it - and its moon - at the inner edge of the habitable zone of the planetary system.
During a transit period, in which the planet passed in front of its star, Hubble detected a second decrease in the star's brightness after the planet.
Kipping and Teachey relied on the "transit" method already used by researchers to discover almost 4,000 planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets.
The researchers requested time on the Hubble Space Telescope, and their request, which was public, generated a bit of excitement among those who follow new planet discoveries.
The results were enough for the team to get 40 hours of time with NASA's Hubble to intensively study the planet - supplying them with data four times more precise. 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.
"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.
Kepler-1625b-i is the first exomoon candidate.
The size and gaseous composition of the exomoon challenge current moon formation theories. Ultimately, Kepler-1625b-i can not be considered confirmed until it has survived the long scrutiny of many years, observations and community skepticism, and perhaps the detection of similar such objects.
Compelling evidence have been found on the existence of the moon, orbiting a gas-giant planet, 8,000 light-years away from Earth. "But we knew our job was to keep a level head testing every conceivable way in which the data could be tricking us until we were left with no other explanation". "Both bodies, however, are considered to be gaseous and therefore unsuitable for life as we know it", Kipping added. The problem is only large planets that orbit close to stars are detectable, and those types of planets typically don't have moons. And the third is moons forming from the disc materials that created the planets in the early days of the solar system.
GREENFIELDBOYCE: The researchers have requested more time on Hubble to do more observations next May. Out of the eight planets, only Mercury and Venus have none.
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