Yesterday (Oct. 3), researchers announced they had spotted evidence of a Neptune-size moon circling the planet Kepler-1625b, which is about three times more massive than Jupiter. It will take more observation with the Hubble to confirm it.
"This intriguing finding shows how NASA's missions work together to uncover incredible mysteries in our cosmos", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters, Washington.
The ideal candidate planets hosting moons are also in large orbits - with long and infrequent transit times.
Teachey, a third-year graduate student at Columbia University in NY, was first author of the research announcing the potential moon. Kepler 1625-b was the best candidate to have a moon, as they noticed some rather odd anomalies.
Describing the moment of discovery, scientist David Kipping said: "It was definitely a shocking moment to see that light curve".
So Kipping and Teachey studied the information from NASA's Kepler space telescope, an exoplanet chasing satellite.
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The researchers then used the Hubble Space Telescope to closely monitor the star in question, monitoring the light closely as the planet made a 19-hour transit. It clearly indicated a moon that was trailing behind the planet. And the third is moons forming from the disc materials that created the planets in the early days of the solar system.
Another planet could cause the same gravitational nudge, the researchers noted, although Kepler observations have come up empty in that regard. The second was a delay in the planet passing in front of its star.
"A moon is an excellent explanation to the data at hand", Kipping said. "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".
Even if it might be odd that a Neptune-sized moon could exist out there, at the same time, nothing in physics says that it can't.
According to a recently released study by the Columbia University, astronomers found the first moon outside our solar system. They will use the Hubble Space Telescope for more observations in May 2019 to confirm their finding. Or maybe its origin story resembles that of the moons of Jupiter, which are thought to have coalesced from a ring of gas and dust that circled the planet.
However, in the case of the Earth-Moon system and the Pluto-Charon system - the largest of the five known natural satellites of the dwarf planet Pluto - an early collision with a larger body is hypothesised to have blasted off material that later coalesced into a moon.
Astronomers call the moon Kepler-1625b-i. Kepler-1625b was discovered on May 10 2016, and is as far from its star as Earth is from the sun, placing it in the habitable zone. "Both bodies, however, are considered to be gaseous and therefore unsuitable for life as we know it", Kipping added.
"If this does pan out and turn into a true discovery, it would be really revolutionary, but I don't think we're quite there yet", says Megan Bedell, an astronomer at the Flatiron Institute in NY.