Scientists have just made a big discovery about 4,000 light years from Earth, literally. They’ve found a huge moon the size of Neptune orbiting a planet the size of Jupiter, albeit with 10 times the mass, and it is the first time astronomers have ever discovered a moon outside of our solar system.
The so-called “exomoon” has been dubbed Kepler-1625b after the telescope that spotted it. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope also assisted in the search. Scientists have had trouble finding exomoons in the past because many of them are much smaller than planets, and it’s hard enough to find a planet outside of our solar system. To find a planet, astronomers measure the dips in light from the stars they orbit, which happens when the planet crosses in front of the star. Exomoons represent an outstanding challenge in modern astronomy, with the potential to provide rich insights into planet formation theory and habitability.
These planets range from Earth-to-Jupiter sized and from 0.1-to-1.0AU in separation – so-called \warm” planets. A total of 3,000 exoplanets have been identified to date, but this is the first exomoon positively identified by scientists.
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