Astronomers believe they’ve found an exomoon, based on data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. 20,500 miles, compared to the Earth’s diameter of 7,900 miles.
According to the British newspaper, “Daily Mail”, it orbits a planet the size of Jupiter called Kepler 1708 b in another solar system, 5,500 light years from Earth.
No exomoon has been officially confirmed yet, although the first possible candidate was identified four years ago. Because outer moons cannot be imaged directly, their presence is inferred when they pass in front of a star, temporarily dimming the star’s light.
Observations from other space telescopes such as Hubble will be needed to verify the discovery, a process that could take years.
If the new vision is confirmed, it could mean that outer moons are as common in the universe as exoplanets (planets outside our solar system).
The discovery was led by Professor David Kipping and his Cool Worlds Laboratory at Columbia University and was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
“Astronomers have discovered more than 10,000 candidate exoplanets so far, but exomoons present a much bigger challenge,” said Professor Kipping, who has spent the past decade searching for exomoons.
Confirmation of the mysterious object orbiting Kepler 1708b as an outer moon may take a long time, considering that the first-ever sighting of an outer moon four years ago is still pending.
Notably, Professor Kepling and his team were looking at a sample of the coldest gas giant planets captured by Kepler, which was decommissioned in 2018, and after scanning 70 planets in depth, they found only one candidate, Kepler 1708b, with a moon-like signal.
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