Astronomers might have spotted one of the first exomoons

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We have now confirmed the existence of more than 4,000 exoplanets, or planets, outside our solar system, teaching us how planets and systems form and even helping us detect other habitable worlds. can do. However, one object that is hard to identify is an exomoon. Astronomers think it is quite possible that moons exist outside our solar system, but because they are usually so small they are very difficult to detect. However, astronomers at Columbia University believe they may have found evidence of an exomoon.

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The potential exomoon, which is much larger and orbits a Jupiter-sized planet named Kepler 1708b, is located 5,500 light-years away. This is the second candidate discovered by the same team headed by David Kipping. “Astronomers have found more than 10,000 exoplanet candidates so far, but exomoons are far more challenging,” Kiping said in a Statement, “They’re Terra Secret.”

Artist's impression of an Xmoon.
The discovery of a second exomoon candidate points to the possibility that exomoons may be just as common as exoplanets. Helena Valenzuela Widerstromy

Kipping and his team looked at archival data from NASA’s Kepler telescope and honed in on the coldest gas giant planets. They chose to focus on these exoplanets because the counterpart planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, both have many moons orbiting them.


They searched for data on 70 planets before finding the sign of an exomoon candidate. Being super-sized meant that the sign stood out, and if more candidates are discovered in the future, they won’t be that big. “The first finding in any survey will usually be strange,” Kipping explained. “Bigger ones that are easier to detect with our limited sensitivity.”

Astronomers will need to collect more data before confirming whether the candidate is indeed an exomoon, or whether it is just an oddity in the data. It is possible that the signal may be caused by the planet interacting with its star or by noise from the Kepler instrument. So for now, Kipling and his colleagues will continue to look for more evidence about whether or not this is actually a moon beyond our solar system.

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The research is published in the journal nature astronomy,

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