In a stellar system 8000 light-years from Earth, astronomers have found the first compelling evidence for a Neptune-sized moon orbiting a Jupiter-sized planet.
In what would quite literally be a colossal first, astronomers may have finally found an exomoon, or a moon orbiting a planet outside of our own solar system.
Future searches for exomoons, in general, will target Jupiter-size planets that are farther from their star than Earth is from the Sun.
Although moons are common in our solar system, which has almost 200 natural satellites, the long search for interstellar moons has been an empty one.
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Teachey and Kipping believe the moon is approximately the size of Neptune, making it larger than any moon in our solar system.
The most common method to observe these exoplanets is called the transit method.
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.
Describing the moment of discovery, scientist David Kipping said: "It was definitely a shocking moment to see that light curve".
The results were enough for the team to get 40 hours of time with NASA's Hubble to intensively study the planet - supplying them with data four times more precise. Today we know that the conditions on extrasolar planets are very diverse - they differ in temperature, size, composition, orbital architecture and character of the star-master.
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This decrease in dimness is consistent with "a moon trailing the planet like a dog following its owner on a leash", Kipping said. The team used the telescope with the aim of finding evidence to either validate or refute the existence of the first exomoon.
Kepler-1625b-i is the first exomoon candidate.
The potential moon would be considerably larger than Earth - about the size of Neptune or Uranus.
The star's light appeared to fade more than an hour before its Jupiter-like planet transited. Ultimately, Kepler-1625b-i can not be considered confirmed until it has survived the long scrutiny of many years, observations and community skepticism, and perhaps the detection of similar such objects. This catalog included 284 planets found by Kepler with wide orbits around their host stars. "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". In addition, because they orbit the planet, their own orbit is also constantly shifting.
This illustration provided by Dan Durda shows the exoplanet Kepler-1625b with a hypothesized moon.
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Even though they lie within their system's habitable zone, both the exoplanet and the exomoon are gaseous and thus unsuitable for life. In the case of the Earth-Moon system and the Pluto-Charon system, the moons are thought to be created through dust leftover after rocky planetary collisions. During this event, using the Hubble telescope it was measured the systems, like Kepler, it spotted patterns pointing to an exomoon.