Monday, 15 October, 2018

Astronomers find signs of "exomoon" in distant solar system

The moon is the size of Neptune More The moon is the size of Neptune More
Doris Mccormick | 06 October, 2018, 23:28

Still, he and colleague Alex Teachey say in the journal Science Advances that they have good evidence that a Neptune-size moon is orbiting a Jupiter-like planet, in a solar system about 8,000 light-years away.

The new discovery is estimated, by the two astronomers, twice as large as Earth's moon in the planet's skies and massive as the ice giant Neptune.

"This intriguing finding shows how NASA's missions work together to uncover incredible mysteries in our cosmos". In this study, they analysed 284 light curves from the Kepler satellite of planet-hosting stars that were considered to be plausible candidates for systems containing exomoons. Such an event is called a transit, and has been used to detect numerous exoplanets cataloged to date. Kipping and Teachey discovered it among 300 exoplanets in Kepler's catalogue, all producing predictable dips in starlight that occur as an orbiting body passes in front of its sun - a phenomenon called a "transit".

Both anomalies could indicate the presence of a moon in orbit around the planet.

"This would be the first case of detecting a moon outside our Solar System", Kipping, an assistant professor of astronomy, said in a statement.

"We saw little deviations and wobbles in the light curve that caught our attention", said Kipping.

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First Known Exomoon DiscoveredLast year, an global team of researchers analyzed data from 284 exoplanets that were discovered by Kepler Space Telescope.

But now, a combination of old data collected by the Kepler Space Telescope and observations using the Hubble Space Telescope may have revealed the first evidence for an "exomoon", a moon orbiting an exoplanet. Scientists monitored the planet before and during its 19-hour transit across the face of the star. 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. However, the observation period ended before aktolun has completed its turnover. This is consistent with a model of the system in which the planet and its moon orbit a common centre of gravity, causing the planet to wobble away from its predicted location [4]. Planets in wide orbits take longer to transit their stars and are likely to have big moons, which should make them easier to find than small ones. The second was a delay in the planet passing in front of its star. "But we knew our job was to keep a level head and essentially assume it was bogus, testing every conceivable way in which the data could be tricking us".

Astronomers may have just found the very first moon outside of our solar system.

Given the conditions of that planet and its potential moon are gas giants, it is impossible to think that this planet could support life. The mass ratio between the exomoon and Kepler-1625b is similar to the ratio between the moon and Earth. Because it's a gaseous moon circling a gas giant, it's possible-but unlikely-that it was formed like our moon when a cosmic collision broke a chunk off its host planet.

In the Kepler exoplanet catalog, there are only a few Jupiter-size planets that are farther from their star than Earth is from the sun - good candidates for moons due to the distance. Other moons, such as Neptune's largest moon Triton, may have been captured from the Kuiper belt. 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.

"If this does pan out and turn into a true discovery, it would be really revolutionary, but I don't think we're quite there yet", says Megan Bedell, an astronomer at the Flatiron Institute in NY.

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