Science

'First exomoon may have been found'

'First exomoon may have been found'”

Astronomers may have found the first moon outside our solar system, a gas behemoth the size of Neptune. Such enormous moons are not present in our own solar system where 200 natural satellites have been indexed. Kepler-1625b is a Jupiter-sized planet that orbits far enough away from its star-about the same distance Earth is from ours-that a moon could be stable. The ageing sun-like star in the constellation Cygnus is known to host a huge, gas giant planet the size of Jupiter, known as Kepler-1625b.

This "exomoon" is not like any in our cosmic neighbourhood: it's the size of Neptune and orbits a planet the size of Jupiter - but with 10 times the mass.

Kipping and his colleague Alex Teachey, both researchers at Columbia University, detailed their investigation of the Hubble and Kepler data in a new paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

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. They were on the lookout for a second temporary dimming of starlight. And those that follow a planet's passages in front of its star have more of these passages to work with when planets are closer and their orbits are shorter. Another is capture, when objects are captured and pulled into orbit around a large planet - like Neptune's moon Triton, which is believed to be a captured Kuiper Belt object.

In an attempt to confirm their original tentative detection, the team behind the new study scheduled high precision measurements of Kepler-1625 with the Hubble Space Telescope, which were carried out in October 2017. The researchers can't be completely sure, however, since the observation of the moon transit could not be completed. That's why the astronomers need another look with Hubble, hopefully next spring.

Despite the evidence, Teachey stressed, "We are urging caution here". Teachey said that it's likely this possible exomoon is "in some ways the lowest hanging fruit". It would also orbit roughly 45° outside the plane defined by the planet's orbit and at an unusually large distance from the planet. The astronomers are uncertain how this potential moon might have formed, given its size.

"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.

And when E.T. phones home, there's no reason that home couldn't be a moon. The Kepler outcomes were sufficient enough for the group to achieve 40 hours of time with Hubble to vehemently study the planet acquiring the data four times more accurate than that of Kepler. The pair would have a similar mass and radius ratio to the Earth and its moon but scaled up by a factor of 11.

Another planet could cause the same gravitational nudge, the researchers noted, although Kepler observations have come up empty in that regard. However, Kepler didn't find evidence of any additional planets in this system.

A moon orbiting Kepler-1625b is the best explanation, Teachey and Kipping said. "We're learning new things how to do these observations better". That would confirm that the find is an exomoon.

The Columbia astronomers said they may be able to clinch this as early as next year, with more Hubble viewing.

Whether confirmed or not, the subject offers insight into how rare - or how common - our own solar system might be.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: Even in our own solar system, some of the most intriguing places to hunt for life are moons, like Enceladus and Europa around Saturn and Jupiter. Of the eight planets in our solar system, only Mercury and Venus have none. Previous studies suggest it's possible such large moons can coalesce from a planet's rings.



Like this

loading...
loading...

Latest


06 October 2018
Republican-appointed judges have an edge on U.S. courts
Ms Murkowski of Alaska, a state that also voted pro-Trump in 2016, has been undecided on Judge Kavanaugh throughout the hearings. Now that Senate passed its cloture motion, the final vote on confirmation will sometime on Saturday.

05 October 2018
Meteorite used as doorstop for decades worth $100,000
What's 88.5 percent iron, 11.5 percent nickel and worth $100,000? " I could tell right away that this was something special ". A man has discovered a rock he's been using as a doorstop for 30 years is a meteorite worth more than $100,000.

05 October 2018
Kim Kardashian Apologizes For Encouraging 'Insensitive' Eating Comments
On Wednesday, the reality star shared a quote to her Instagram Story offering strength to those who had been "beautifully broken".

05 October 2018
Rock used as doorstop for decades identified as $141,000 meteorite
The meteorite's owner said that regardless of the buyer, he will donate 10 percent of the sale amount to the university. This January, southern MI experienced a meteor flash that showered fragments of space rock all over Livingston County.

05 October 2018
Manchester United legend Paul Scholes 'sick' of Jose Mourinho moaning
It ultimately provides another indication that Mourinho's time in Manchester is nearly certainly up. This is their worst start to a league campaign in nearly three decades.

05 October 2018
Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to trio of evolutionary scientists
In a process mimicking evolution, Winter introduced mutations to make antibodies progressively better at binding to their targets. No Nobel literature prize will be awarded this year due to a sex abuse scandal at the Swedish Academy, which choses the victor .

05 October 2018
First lady Melania Trump brings "Be Best" campaign to Malawi school
After the talks, Melania is scheduled to watch a performance by Sarakasi dancers at the Kenya National Theater. But on Thursday, it was the US First Lady's turn to be on the receiving end of an uncomfortable message.

05 October 2018
NBA Insider Has Major Update On A Jimmy Butler Trade
But the Rockets are on the clock to make something happen if they want to acquire Butler and keep him beyond the 2018-19 season. So far, Minnesota has allowed Butler to stay away in the preseason; presumably as the team works to find a trade for him.

05 October 2018
Nearly 40% Of Americans Admit To Eating Fast Food Every Day
Roughly 35 percent of Hispanic consumers and 31 percent of Asian-American consumers said they had eaten fast food the prior day. By now, you might be wondering what it would take for Americans to dial back their addiction to fast food.

05 October 2018
Sarri annoyed by Chelsea’s poor defending, not their missed chances
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri believes midfielder Ross Barkley should be recalled to the England squad. "I'm very happy for him". He's improving match by match, week by week.