Astronomers Find First Alien Moon: Its Big And Gaseous

Scientists Think They've Found the First Moon Outside Our Solar System

Scientists Think They've Found the First Moon Outside Our Solar System

More observations are needed to confirm this discovery.

Astronomers may have detected the first moon outside the solar system, around 8,000 light years from Earth, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The candidate moon, with the designation Kepler-1625b-i, is unusual because of its large size; it is comparable in diameter to the planet Neptune.

"This intriguing finding shows how NASA's missions work together to uncover incredible mysteries in our cosmos". They were amazed instead by how different this moon was from the roughly 180 known in our solar system. Such an event is called a transit, and has been used to detect numerous exoplanets cataloged to date.

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.

Researchers have been studying Kepler-1625b as part of their hunt for exomoons and, out of a pool of 284 exoplanets, Kipping and Teachey found that Kepler-1625b was the best candidate.

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

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. And finding future moons will require looking at planets much further out from their stars, something that is hard now, but should possible once the powerful but long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope finally begins scanning the skies.

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To find an exoplanet, astronomers rely on spotting the tiniest dips of light as a planet passes in front of its host star (the transit method) - which themselves are only small pinpricks of light when viewed with even the largest telescopes.

He says they've requested more time on Hubble to do follow-up observations next May, but they are still waiting on the results of that proposal.

Various attempts have been made previously to confirm or deny that there is a moon outside our solar system.

In addition, as a planet and its moon orbit a common centre of gravity, it causes the planet to wobble away from its predicted location.

The host planet and its moon lie within the solar mass star's (Kepler 1625) habitable zone, where moderate temperatures allow for the existence of liquid water on any solid planetary surface.

"This tells us a lot about the...formation of planets and planetary systems". But he has admitted that the existence of an exomoon is the "simplest and most natural explanation". This moon is thought to be the size and mass of Neptune.

We know there are some 200 moons in our own solar system, including Earth's aptly named "moon". Or perhaps, like Earth's moon, it is actually a product of its planet, formed in some catastrophic collision. A faraway observer with a powerful telescope would see our earth-moon system orbiting the sun in a similar fashion. 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.

"Both bodies, however, are considered to be gaseous and therefore unsuitable for life as we know it", Kipping said.

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