A real historical celestial sighting may have been reported by astronomers earlier this week. By combining some serious math with the findings of the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists might have provided the first exciting evidence of an exomoon. An exomoon is a natural satellite which orbits a planet from outside of our solar system.
We assumed the existence of such celestial bodies for some years now. We based this supposition on the fact that many of the planets from our solar system have natural satellites and there are many solar systems in our universe similar to our own, with planets like ours. Exomoons are more difficult to spot than exoplanets, however. That’s why, until now researchers were unable of finding one.
All this changed on Wednesday when Alex Teachey and David Kipping, researchers from the Columbia University, presented what they believe to be solid proof for an exomoon. It seems to be a big one as well, since it is several times bigger than Earth. It is located at almost 4,000 light years away and it orbits a planet which is just as big as Jupiter, or maybe bigger.
The research duo stated that we need to be reserved with our hopes because subsequent studies are required in order to confirm it. Hard number on mass and diameter will have to wait as well. You can read this article online, as it was published in the Science Advances journal. The planet which is orbited by this exomoon is dubbed Keppler-1625b, which was discovered through NASA’s Keppler space observatory.
This happened quite recently, in a study which identified 284 ‘transiting planets’. These are planets which pass between their home star and Earth, which dims the star’s light from where we stand. This way of studying planets can really help scientists to find more about a certain planet, although, as we said, things are different for exomoons. The research will continue.