In efforts to explore the universe for various aspects of space science, NASA has again been near to a newer discovery as they have just discover an exo-moon outside the solar system, for the first time in the history of space research.
The moon is found revolving around a gas-giant planet outside the solar system, approximately at a distance of 8000 light years from the earth. Both our giant telescopes, Hubble and Kepler were used for this discovery. As published in a research journal, This exo-moon is really unusual to be found outside the solar system at that particular locus (moons orbiting planets in other star systems – is unusual) because of its large size as compared to that of Neptune. There’s no defined evidence/ discoveries confirming of exo-moons but this research has shown considerable possibilities of their existence.
Also, the moon is unique because not even a single such gigantic celestial satellite has been found in our solar system, out of hundreds of satellites discovered till now. However, the confirmation Of results is necessary by Hubble and Kepler as the initial information is too primitive to decide anything. According to David Kipping, “This would be the first case of detecting a moon outside our solar system. If confirmed by follow-up Hubble 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.”
David is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University, where I research extra-solar planets moons. He is very well-known for his work related to exo-moons and his research interests also include the study and characterization of transiting exoplanets, their atmosphere, the development of novel detection and characterization techniques, the Bayesian inference, population statistics etc. Scientists have analysed the data received from Kepler 284, about extra-solar planets. The observation goes like this: whenever a planet passes in front of its star, there’s a dimming of starlight momentarily. It is called a transit.
But after observing the information from Kepler, they found certain abnormalities in the light dimming pattern. Their team got curious about it and made some hypothetical assumptions based on the irregularities in the light dimming. Now as there were no other planets found, the only possibility is that of a satellite/moon of the already existing planets that revolve around their star. Alex Teachey, Graduate Fellow in astronomy at the Columbia University, said that, “A companion moon is the simplest and most natural explanation for the second dip in the light curve and the orbit-timing deviation.”
Moreover, the mass ratio of this pair of planet-satellite is found to be same as earth and moon. It is tough to decide whether the new found body is an exo-moon or not as they tend to change their pattern of revolutions and their transit signals are weak as well. Still NASA is trying to validate their research and know about the existence of exo-moons.