Scientists first discovered the moon outside the Solar system

Over the last couple of decades we’ve spotted thousands of planets outside ofMore

Over the last couple of decades we’ve spotted thousands of planets outside ofMore

The first known moon beyond the Solar System has been discovered by astronomers. They are located 8,000 light years from Earth. However, unlike the rocky moons in the solar system, the exomoon is gaseous, which means that it may have been created through a different process.

Kipping has spent a decade working on the "exomoon hunt". But the results are delayed due to the limits of detection with current techniques. They believe it's orbiting a gas giant. Exomoons, or moons outside of our solar system, are hard to spot due to their expected smaller size compared to planets.

A couple of years ago, Kipping and Teachey began scrutinizing data collected by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

"We saw little deviations and wobbles in the light curve that caught our attention", David Kipping, second author of the study, said. Of the eight planets, only mercury and Venus they are not. They noticed that after Kepler-1625B crossed in front of its star there was another decrease in measurable brightness 3.5 hours late.

Dr Kipping said this was consistent with "a moon trailing the planet like a dog following its owner on a leash".

Kepler 1625b was found to start its orbit over an hour early, a marker that something with generally solid gravity is pulling on it, substituting its focal point of gravity and influencing its orbit. The second was a delay in the planet passing in front of its star.

Evidence of this exomoon was observed through a dimming of light from the exoplanet Kepler-1625b about 7,800 light years from earth.

It was discovered when Columbia astronomers Kipping and Alex Teachey used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to follow up on an intriguing find from data in the Kepler Space Telescope's exoplanet catalog. "But we knew our job was to keep a level head and essentially assume it was bogus, testing every conceivable way in which the data could be tricking us".

Kepler-1625B and its moon appear to have a similar ratio to Earth and the Moon but both are much larger. Two Columbia University researchers presented their tantalising evidence for a moon Wednesday. And excitingly, some of the moons around the giant planets in our solar system - including Europa, Enceladus and Titan - are now our best bet for finding life outside our own planet (or possibly on Mars). But only one of them, Kepler 1625b, demonstrated the kind of properties that they were searching for-a couple of unforeseen variations from the norm. That would confirm that the find is an exomoon. They also shift position with each orbit.

Scientists have never had enough evidence to confirm that any exoplanet has a moon orbiting it, but that might be about to change. The moon that revolves around it, comparable in size to Neptune. Kepler-1625b was discovered on May 10 2016, and is as far from its star as Earth is from the sun, placing it in the habitable zone.

Scientists called it "absolunet" by analogy with the name of earth-like planets orbiting other stars. Currently, there are just a handful of such planets in the Kepler database.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled for launch in 2021, should make it possible for scientists to find even the smallest exomoons, Teachey said.

"A companion moon is the simplest and most natural explanation for the second dip in the light curve and the orbit-timing deviation", Kipping explained.

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