Researchers announce they may have discovered the first exomoon
01 Aug 2017
A team of exoplanet-hunters announced they may have detected a moon orbiting an exoplanet for the first time. According to commentators it is hard enough to reliably spot exoplanets given the observations are based on tiny flickerings in a star. The flickers from moons are even tinier.
The exoplanet in question is Kepler-1625b that Columbia University's Alex Teachey and David Kipping and citizen scientist Allan Schmitt observed and according to the abstract of their paper, it is scheduled for Hubble Space Telescope observations.
According to Science Magazine, the team was hoping to hold back their findings until after they had taken a look with Hubble.
However, according to Teachey writing for Scientific American, keeping their heads down might have been worse: ''we're not just trying to save ourselves from embarrassment; the announcement and subsequent retraction of potentially ground-breaking results has the effect of eroding public trust in science over time, and we are chiefly concerned with not contributing to that problem.''
He continues, ''we worried that getting the public excited about this object before we really know much of anything for sure is just bad for science''.
According to commentators it will be some time before the trio get their Hubble time and decide whether or not they have found an exomoon.
Kepler-1625b is at a distance of 4,000 light-years from the earth. It is a gas giant exoplanet of the star Kepler-1625.
''It would be a pretty big deal if this exomoon candidate turns out to be real, because it would be the first of its kind, and moons stand to tell us quite a bit about our solar system and other star systems,'' Teachey told Fox News via email.
''This could provide vital clues about how star systems form and evolve,'' he added.
According to the BBC, the exomoon may be the size and mass of Neptune, and is circling a planet about the size of Jupiter, but with 10 times the mass.