Astronomers uncover moon orbiting a gas-giant planet 8,000 light-years away

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

Astronomers may have found the first moon outside our solar system, a gas behemoth the size of Neptune. The so-called exomoon, which is estimated to be the size of Neptune, was found in orbit around a very big gas planet 8,000 light-years from Earth. None have been confirmed so far even though more than 3,500 exoplanets are known.

"This would be the first case of detecting a moon outside our solar system". The researchers say this may yield new insights into the development of planetary systems and may cause experts to revisit theories of how moons form around planets. The journal's deputy editor, Kip Hodges, praised the researchers for their cautious tone, given the hard and complicated process of identifying an exomoon. But the results are delayed due to the limits of detection with current techniques. The first exomoon is obviously an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence. They believe it's orbiting a gas giant.

Dr. Kipping has been researching for over a decade to find several promising exomoon candidates working with data returned by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft.

Teachey and Kipping relied on the "transit" method, which is already used by researchers to discover almost 4,000 planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets. The new observations made with Hubble show compelling evidence for a large exomoon orbiting the only known planet of Kepler-1625.

Describing the moment of discovery, scientist David Kipping said: "It was definitely a shocking moment to see that light curve".

The pair of scientists were able to use their observations to secure 40 hours time on the Hubble space telescope.

After the transit ended, Hubble detected a second and much smaller decrease in the star's brightness approximately 3.5 hours later, consistent with the effect of a moon trailing the planet. The observation period, however, ended before the moon could complete its transit.

They also noticed that Kepler-1625B was early in starting is transit which is consistent with the wobble of a planet that has an orbiting moon.

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Hints of a moon orbiting the planet called Kepler-1625b were first detected past year, but the pair used Hubble to analyse the region in greater detail.

That planet, called Kepler-1625b, is one of thousands that scientists have recently detected around distant stars.

"A companion moon is the simplest and most natural explanation for the second dip in the light curve and the orbit-timing deviation", said Alex Teachey, Graduate Fellow in astronomy at the Columbia University. "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". It's assumed to be a gas giant about the size of Jupiter, but ten times as dense. 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.

Because their transit signals are weaker than those of planets and their positions change as they orbit their parent planets. They also shift position with each orbit.

The exomoon and its planet orbit Kepler-1625, a star similar in temperature to our sun but about 70 percent larger. Or they look for a minuscule wobble in the motion of a star, caused by the gravitational tug of its orbiting planet (the radial method). The moons of Jupiter and Saturn on the other hand coalesced from the debris left behind after the planets formed.

This was first observed through the Kepler telescope and then confirmed by the Hubble telescope on October 28th and 29, 2017. Many publications facing an uncertain future can no longer afford to fund it.

So, can we put money on Nept-moon's existence?

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