Astronomers Alex Teachey and David Kipping, from Columbia University, USA, may have found an exomoon orbiting a planet in a solar system thousands of light years away. While astronomers now find these planets on a regular basis, the search for moons orbiting exoplanets wasn't successful - until today. We won't know for sure until researchers can do more tests, of course, but even so, what we do have is very promising.
"This would be the first case of detecting a moon outside our solar system", said Kipping, assistant professor of astronomy at Columbia. The planet Endor itself is a gas giant, but the Forest Moon is a habitable world, peopled by small furry sentient creatures. If confirmed, this would be the first moon discovered outside our own solar system, according to the new study published in the journal Science Advances. 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. They estimate it to be 1.5 percent the mass of its planet and the mass ratio between planet and moon to be close to that of the Earth-Moon system. They observed a dip in Kepler-1625's brightness when the planet and then the exomoon passed in front of it.
To spot exoplanets, astronomers look at their host stars, and wait for a planet to pass between the starlight and observers on Earth.
"We noticed a certain refractive index, and deviations in the light curve that caught our attention", explained Kipping. Both the timing effects and the dimming of the star that we see in the data correspond with the mood model description so the astronomers allocated 40 hours of observation time on the Hubble telescope. First, Kepler 1625b begins its transit of the star over an hour early, an indicator that something with relatively strong gravity is tugging on it, alternating its center of gravity and affecting its orbit. "It tells a lot about how unique or how common, in fact, that our solar system is-that the setup of having planets with moons may be something quite common", says Andrew Fazekas, an astronomy columnist with National Geographic.
The second, much smaller transit could have been caused by a moon that follows or trails after its parent planet.More news: RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.5%
"Unfortunately, the scheduled Hubble observations ended before the complete transit of the moon could be measured", Kipping said.
An artist's impression of the exoplanet Kepler-1625b, transiting the star, with the newly discovered exomoon in tow is shown in this image released on October 2, 2018.
It revolves around a gas giant and nearly does not differ from it in size. Kepler 1625b is roughly the same distance from its star as Earth is from the sun. "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".
It's possible that rather than being caused by a moon this delay might be the result of another planet in the Kepler-1625 system.
GREENFIELDBOYCE: The researchers have requested more time on Hubble to do more observations next May. In addition, because they orbit the planet, their own orbit is also constantly shifting.