As of now, through several space exploration programs scientists have found exoplanets, dwarf planets, asteroids and mysterious galaxies and now researchers at Columbia University have announced that they have found evidence of the first known moon outside our Solar System. It is reportedly as big as Neptune and orbits a planet the size of Jupiter.
Over the last years, astronomers kept hunting bodies that orbit distant planets and planets from the star-soaked fabric of the cosmos, using multiple techniques to find them and confirm their existence.
"This would be the first case of detecting a moon outside our Solar System", Kipping, an assistant professor of astronomy, said in a statement. 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.
There are about 200 moons in our own solar system, including Earth's aptly named "moon".
For the so-called exomoon presence announced on July 2017, were made more observations with the Hubble Space Telescope, and scientist was able to gather more data about the orbital companion for Kepler 1625b.
However, this moon is unusual because of its large size, which is more comparable to the diameter of Neptune. The researchers monitored a 19-hour event when the planet known as Kepler 1625b passed in front of its parent star blocking out some of the light coming from the star, which lies at a distance of 8,000 light-years from Earth and matched with their expectations.
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Intriguingly this is close to the ratio in size between the Earth and its moon, said the researchers. Three-and-a-half hours later, Hubble detected a much smaller dip in the star's brightness consistent with a large moon trailing the planet.
The astronomers are uncertain how this potential moon might have formed, given its size.
Astronomers have hunted for "exoplanets" - planets outside our solar sytem - for decades, but have never spotted an "exomoon", until now. "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".
Teachey and Kipping are submitting proposals for more time on Hubble to observe this planet and its moon during another transit. "We're still not 100 percent sure about that, but we think it is the leading hypothesis", says Kipping. Passing along with the planet on the background of its star, they make a very weak contribution to the change in its brightness, to the same place for more complex trajectories and give less clear signal. A Jupiter-sized body with a Neptune-sized moon is unlike anything scientists have seen before.
In principle this anomaly could also be caused by the gravitational pull of a hypothetical second planet in the system, but the Kepler Space Telescope found no evidence for additional planets around the star during its four year mission.
"It's raising new questions about sort of the dynamical processes that go on to create the planets and moons", Teachey said. The research team hopes to take another look at the star next May, if there is time available on the Hubble.