Astronomers may have discovered first moon outside our solar system

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

Researchers detect what may be the first known moon outside solar system

The detection of the candidate exomoon - moons orbiting planets in other star systems - is unusual because of its large size, comparable to the diameter of Neptune.

Astronomers have possibly discovered the first known moon outside our Solar System, using NASA's Hubble and Kepler space telescopes.

The exoplanet was originally found by the transit technique, in which a planet passing in front of its host star, along our line of sight, causes the star's brightness to dim slightly (by around 1% for a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a sun-sized star) once every orbit.

Now, David Kipping and Alex Teachey from Columbia University in NY are hoping that in their result and reports have taken every hypothesis in consideration and that they will get independent confirmation and appreciation.

However, given that both the planet and its potential moon are gas giants, no one is suggesting conditions that might support life.

Thousands of planets have been spotted outside of our solar system over the past few decades, but for the first time, scientists may have discovered a moon.

Alex Teachey, the graduate student who led the discovery, added: "It is an exciting reminder of how little we really know about distant planetary systems and the great spirit of discovery exoplanetary science embodies". They will use the Hubble Space Telescope for more observations in May 2019 to confirm their finding.

Kepler-1625b and its possible moon are both located in the habitable zone of the parent star, Kepler-1625, a Sun-like star about eight percent more massive than the Sun. The object has a mass about 1.5% that of the planet - a similar mass-ratio as the Earth and moon.

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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. At this size, the moon, tentatively designated Kepler-1625b-i, is likely to be gaseous as well. Unfortunately, the scheduled Hubble observations ended before the complete transit of the moon could be captured. In exoplanet Kepler 1625b, some 4,000 light-years away, they noticed "intriguing anomalies".

Kipping described this as "a moon trailing the planet like a dog following its owner on a leash". In addition, the transit occurred about one-and-a-quarter hours earlier than predicted.

The space observatory, Kepler has confirmed more than 2600 planets, outside the solar system as of now.

Perhaps that wobble could be due to the presence of a second planet, the researchers thought.

The researchers monitored the planet before and during its 19-hour-long transit across the face of the star.

Moons are kind of the next frontier when it comes to understanding alien solar systems, says Bedell: "They capture our imagination". In this search, the Neptune-sized moon would have been among the easiest to detect because of its large size, scientists said.

"But going forward, I think we're opening the doors to finding worlds like that", Teachey said. To clarify the made observations, the researchers used data from the telescope "Hubble". They chose to look at exoplanets with the widest orbits, or those that take about 30 days to circle their stars.

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