Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

First the moon outside our solar system found astronomers

An illustration shows a moon orbiting around a planet as the pair cross the face of their host star An illustration shows a moon orbiting around a planet as the pair cross the face of their host star
Andrew Wong | 07 October, 2018, 17:43

In a potential breakthrough for the field, astronomers David Kipping and Alex Teachey have discovered what they believe could be an exomoon - a moon orbiting a planet outside of our solar system. The world that appears to be the first moon detected outside the solar system, orbits a gas planet which is more bigger than Jupiter. Or maybe its origin story resembles that of the moons of Jupiter, which are thought to have coalesced from a ring of gas and dust that circled the planet.

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.

"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. A mass ratio that is similar to that of Earth and the Moon. In order to find a suggestive signal of an exomoon, Kipping and Teachey was looking for a heavenly body to pass in front of the parent star's light and dip and a delay in the planet passing in front of its star.

So last October, the pair directed the Hubble Space Telescope at the star in an attempt to verify - or rule out - the possibility of a moon orbiting the planet Kepler-1625b.

To gather more precise data on the unusual system the researchers monitored in October 2017, during Kepler 1625b's next transit for 40 hours.

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. They were amazed instead by how different this moon was from the roughly 180 known in our solar system. Kipping explained it as, "a moon trailing the planet like a dog following its owner on a leash".

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"Unfortunately, the scheduled Hubble observations ended before the complete transit of the moon could be measured", Kipping said.

"You could argue that because larger objects are easier to detect than smaller ones, this is really the lowest-hanging fruit, so it might not be wholly unexpected that the first exomoon detection would be among the largest possible", Teachey said.

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

In addition to this dip in light, Hubble provided supporting evidence for the moon hypothesis by measuring that the planet began its transit 1.25 hours earlier than predicted. The moon that revolves around it, comparable in size to Neptune. "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". Out of these, only one planet showed signs of hosting a moon, one around the star known as Kepler-1625.

But Kepler 1625b and its moon are gaseous - not rocky - so such a collision may not lead to the condensation of a satellite. Exomoons also shift position with each transit because the moon is orbiting the planet. They checked about 300 planets for any weirdness that might mean a moon. To discover its managed by the space telescope Hubble. The research team hopes to take another look at the star next May, if there is time available on the Hubble.

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