Astronomers discover first suspected 'exomoon' 8,000 light years away

16:34 • 04.10.18



Astronomers believe they have discovered the first known moon beyond our solar system, in orbit around a gigantic planet 8,000 light years away.


The so-called exomoon, which is estimated to be the size of Neptune, would also be the biggest known moon, far exceeding anything known to exist in our own solar system. The team behind the apparent discovery said it needed further confirmation but that they had failed to find any other convincing explanation for their data, the Guardian reports.


“The first exomoon is obviously an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence,” said David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia University in New York who has spent more than a decade hunting for far-flung moons.


He said the moon’s estimated size was on a scale that had “hardly been anticipated” and “defies easy explanation” based on current theories of moon formation.

 

Kipping and his colleague Alex Teachey made the discovery after analysing data from nearly 300 distant planets discovered using the Kepler space telescope. The planets are revealed by a momentary dimming of starlight as they pass in front of their host star, in what astronomers call a transit.


Kipping and Teachey noticed strange anomalies in the transit data of a gas planet, Kepler 1625b, which is several times the size of Jupiter.


“We saw little deviations and wobbles in the light curve that caught our attention,” Kipping said.


The findings were intriguing enough to win them 40 hours of observation time on the Hubble space telescope, which is four times more powerful, to investigate further.


Using Hubble, they saw a second, much smaller dip in the star’s brightness 3.5 hours after the planet’s transit, hinting at “a moon trailing the planet like a dog following its owner on a leash”. On another transit, the planet appeared 1.25 hours earlier than predicted. This is consistent with the planet and moon orbiting a common centre of gravity, causing the planet to wobble from its predicted location.


The moon is estimated to be only 1.5% the mass of its companion planet, which is close to the mass-ratio between the Earth and its moon. Our moon is thought to have formed through an early collision with a larger body that blasted off material that later coalesced into a ball. However, Kepler 1625b and its moon are gaseous, not rocky, raising questions about how such a moon could have formed in the first place.Based on the moon’s distance from its star, its surface temperature was estimated to be 80C, which is considered just on the upper end of conditions that could support life. However, astronomers said they had not dwelled on the question of habitability, since the moon is thought to be composed of gas. It would not resemble the fictional exomoon Pandora in the film Avatar, Teachey said.

 





LATEST NEWSAll Today news

15:05 • 20/10

Nikol Pashinyan in Lebanon for two-day working visit  

14:44 • 20/10

Armenian writer wins Golden Knight literary award in Russia

14:22 • 20/10

Bako Sahakyan congratulates Catholicos Aram I on 50th anniversary of ordination

13:40 • 20/10

Doctors pluck 11 live worms from a five-month-old's eyeball

11:18 • 20/10

Macedonia votes to start name change process

10:41 • 20/10

Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani 'planning trip Armenia'

09:19 • 20/10

Afghanistan holds parliamentary election amid threats of violence

09:10 • 20/10

Khashoggi case: Saudi TV says missin g journalist 'died after fight'

18:12 • 19/10

Kocharyan lawyers to file appeal with European court

17:10 • 19/10

No prison overcrowding in Armenia, says acting minister

16:21 • 19/10

Australian family's terror as bull shark jumps into tinny during fishing trip

16:07 • 19/10

Aliyev travels to Turkey for working visit  

15:35 • 19/10

Turkish violin virtuoso plays Komitas to commemorate Ara Guler (video)

15:07 • 19/10

eBay revenues up to take on Auto Trader in car ads

15:03 • 19/10

Azerbaijan rescues Iranian sailors 'poisoned by chemicals'

14:38 • 19/10

October 24 marks National Assembly's latest date to elect prime minister  

13:46 • 19/10

Facebook sued over video viewing figures

13:02 • 19/10

Russian animators producing screen version of Saroyan’s 'The Summer of Beautiful White Horse'

12:07 • 19/10

Park dedicated to 2,800th jubilee of Yerevan to open in spring  

11:42 • 19/10

Customs beagle sniffs out pig head in luggage

11:30 • 19/10

Republican Party’s Executive Board discusses electoral reform

11:15 • 19/10

Jenna Bush Hager convinced the White House is haunted

10:43 • 19/10

Forthcoming elections will be the most important in the history of modern Armenia, says international expert

10:16 • 19/10

US-led coalition strikes civilian homes in Deir ez-Zor 

10:11 • 19/10

Apple announces iPad Pro and Mac event for October 30

09:38 • 19/10

Mexico sends police to southern border

09:15 • 19/10

ISIS take 700 hostages including US and European nationals and will 'execute 10 people a day', Putin says

18:04 • 18/10

UK minister steps out of Saudi summit

17:52 • 18/10

Hamilton says chasing Schumacher's record was never the plan

17:33 • 18/10

Republican politician 'confident' about party's future success

17:02 • 18/10

100-year-old woman in wheelchair gets married to 74-year-old man 

16:46 • 18/10

ECHR fines Armenia over procedural violations in March 1, 2008 criminal cases

16:04 • 18/10

Washington Post publishes Saudi journalist's final column

15:22 • 18/10

Kocharyan vows to create political party after 'comeback'

12:22 • 18/10

ADB to offer $50m worth budgetary assistance to Armenia

12:06 • 18/10

168 Zham: EU and Russia have different political expectations from Armenia

11:10 • 18/10

Hraparak: Koharyan stepping aside

09:52 • 18/10

Elon Musk ‘planning to buy’ $20 million of Tesla stock

09:22 • 18/10

Venezuela arrests military officers over Maduor assassination attempt

09:12 • 18/10

World-renowned Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Guler passes away

09:02 • 18/10

Norway issues apologies to WW2 'German girls'

17:54 • 17/10

Google unshackles Android-device firms

17:06 • 17/10

Ariana Grande takes social media break

16:36 • 17/10

Armenia improves positions on Global Competitiveness Index

16:29 • 17/10

Huawei Mate 20 Pro launches with in-screen fingerprint sensor

16:09 • 17/10

Crimea terrorist attack: 13 killed, dozens injured in Kerch college explosion

15:34 • 17/10

Turkey closed border with Armenia for Azerbaijan, says former envoy

15:10 • 17/10

World stocks extend rise after blockbuster US earnings

14:37 • 17/10

Pashinyan introduces new acting minister of economic development and investments

14:09 • 17/10

Fabregas in Guinness World Records for reaching 100 PL assists

13:50 • 17/10

Turkey ‘hopes to enter Saudi consul's residence’ on Wednesday  

13:29 • 17/10

Chinese woman kills herself and two kids after husband fakes death

12:43 • 17/10

Armenia's position on Karabakh 'clearly enshrined' in government program – Foreign Ministry

12:15 • 17/10

Kourtney Kardashian jumps with joy as she ignores sister Kim’s most exciting comment

11:33 • 17/10

Hraparak: Anti-Armenian status for Karabakh 'unnegotiable'

11:01 • 17/10

Man who illegally crossed Armenia- Turkey border 'identified as ethnic Kurd'

10:48 • 17/10

Nations League: Armenia beat Macedonia 4-0

10:15 • 17/10

Kocharyan critical about plan to hold snap elections

09:42 • 17/10

Pashinyan tenders resignation to pave way to snap elections

09:32 • 17/10

At least 30 killed by hurricane Michael

09:12 • 17/10

Canada legalizes marijuana and cannabis

18:09 • 16/10

Thirty years in a metal container damaged by enemy firings

17:41 • 16/10

Moody’s assigns B1 rating to Inecobank

17:26 • 16/10

Russian expert slams Moscow’s weapons trading with Azerbaijan  

16:59 • 16/10

All Ucom TV Subscribers to Enjoy 4 Most Demanded TV-Series’ Channels

16:29 • 16/10

ARF-D not 'not planning to nominate' prime ministerial candidate

15:57 • 16/10

Outgoing US ambassador to Armenia speaks of 'occupied terrritories' surrounding Karabakh

15:34 • 16/10

Google pulls out of Saudi investor conference

14:49 • 16/10

Turkey gets representation in IMF executive directorate

14:44 • 16/10

Bulgaria not to join Eurovision 2019 Song Contest

13:23 • 16/10

Armenian president signs decrees to appoint new cabinet ministers

13:03 • 16/10

Armenian arm wrestling athlete named world champion in Turkey

12:40 • 16/10

Armenia: Three new regional governors appointed

12:04 • 16/10

2018 marked period of unique democratic reforms in Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan says at EaP ministerial summit

11:08 • 16/10

Mike Pompeo to meet Saudi Arabia's king

10:47 • 16/10

CSTO Parliamentary Assembly 'to conduct session in Moscow' instead of Yerevan

10:09 • 16/10

Hraparak: European institutions 'against' early elections in Armenia

09:44 • 16/10

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

09:31 • 16/10

Australia to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital by moving embassy from Tel-Aviv

09:13 • 16/10

Facebook to ban misinformation on voting in upcoming US elections

18:18 • 15/10

New sports minister pledges 'systemic reforms'

17:45 • 15/10

Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ named top album in UK

15:36 • 15/10

Trump called for plan to remove all US diplomats from Turkey in frustration over detention of American pastor

15:12 • 15/10

Bloodhound 1,000mph car goes into administration

14:29 • 15/10

Pashinyan 'not to tender resignation' on Oct. 15, press secretary confirms

13:33 • 15/10

Aznavour family shocked by mocking cartoon portraying late singer

13:08 • 15/10

Rouhani accuses US of seeking “regime change” in Iran

13:02 • 15/10

Alec Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

12:54 • 15/10

Russian border guards apprehend trespasser on Armenia-Turkey border

12:41 • 15/10

Harry and Meghan announce they are expecting their first child together next spring

11:29 • 15/10

1 dead, 1 unjured after shots fired outside Banquet Hall in Glendale

11:19 • 15/10

Plane crashes into crowd in Germany, several people killed

10:43 • 15/10

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive in Sydney for 16-day tour

10:20 • 15/10

Magnitude 2.5 earthquake strikes Armenia’s south

09:47 • 15/10

Oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia vows to hit back against sanctions

09:17 • 15/10

Trump: Climate change scientists have agenda

15:29 • 13/10

We must rule out theft from Yerevan city funds – Nikol Pashinyan

14:32 • 13/10

Armenian president ‘conducted trip to Moscow recently’, Russian paper claims

13:50 • 13/10

New mayor of Yerevan sworn into office

12:49 • 13/10

Pashinyan hails positively developing Armenian-Canadian relations