First moon outside our solar system discovered, astronomers think

First moon outside our solar system discovered, astronomers think

First moon outside our solar system discovered, astronomers think

For the first time, astronauts past year thought they may have found a moon outside our solar system, and recent observations lend credence to the existence of this exomoon.

Future searches for exomoons, in general, will target Jupiter-size planets that are farther from their star than Earth is from the Sun.

"This would be the first case of detecting a moon outside our Solar System", Kipping, an assistant professor of astronomy, said in a statement. Or maybe its origin story resembles that of the moons of Jupiter, which are thought to have coalesced from a ring of gas and dust that circled the planet. If confirmed, it would be the first discovery of an "exomoon" in another solar system.

Kipping and co-author Alex Teachey, a student at Columbia, published the results of their discovery on Wednesday.

"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. Kepler 1625b began its star-crossing passage 77.8 minutes early, according to Dr Kipping, 3.5 hours after the planet's transit ended, the Hubble telescope recorded some gravitationally dragging as the second smaller dimming of the star's brightness happened again which the team ascribed to the gravitational nudging of a large satellite. When a star's brightness dips it's a good indication that something has passed in front of it, and by measuring the light as it wanes it's possible to estimate the size, distance, and nature of the planet.

The most common method to observe these exoplanets is called the transit method.

With the help of space telescopes "Hubble" and "Kepler" researchers have determined that around the planet Kepler-1625б rotating celestial body the size of Neptune.

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

There are no moons anywhere near this size in our solar system.

The second, much smaller transit could have been caused by a moon that follows or trails after its parent planet.

However, the pair are cautious about confirming the find as an exomoon and say more observation is needed. "The first exomoon is obviously an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence", said Teachey. For about four years he examined two signals suggestive of an exomoon in the data from several transits. But there's no evidence of more planets in the system. Despite finding all those planets, researchers have never detected a moon. A faraway observer with a powerful telescope would see our earth-moon system orbiting the sun in a similar fashion. "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".

In October, the astronauts sent the Hubble Space telescope, trying to verify or exclude the findings of scientists from Columbia University. Of the eight planets in our solar system, only Mercury and Venus have none.

Another planet could cause the same gravitational nudge, the researchers noted, although Kepler observations have come up empty in that regard.

Even if it might be unusual that a Neptune-sized moon could exist out there, at the same time, nothing in physics says that it can't.

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