If you ever needed evidence that our solar system is gigantic, then just look at the stargazing communities latest big discovery, a new exomoon.
Found 8000 light years away, the moon which is suspected to be the size of Neptune, twice as large as our moon would be the first moon found outside our solar system in existence. The study published in the journal ScienceAdvances details this new remarkable discovery which is rumoured to have been documented a year ago.
Astronomers from Columbia University, David Kipping and Alex Teachey explained how they came to the discovery, “When we ran our models, the moon model emerged as the best explanation for the data”.
This was because even though the moon itself was not observed, the enormous planet (which is the size of Jupiter) that the exomoon was orbiting around indicated something was pulling on it gravitationally, and that was probably a moon. The orbiting produced a kind of dimming similar to a moth hovering around a lamp which supports the claims. Both the Kepler and Hubble telescopes used advanced technology to observe the distant star.
Kipping and Teachey who led the study urged people to hold back on the confirmation of the planet saying, “We are urging caution here. The first exomoon is obviously an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence.” The reason being is that enormous size was not anticipated and new observations will need to take place over the coming year to confirm the discovery.
200 confirmed moons exist in our own solar system but discoveries of new exoplanets have been frequent in the last decade because of satellite and telescope technology, in fact, 2,327 exoplanets have been discovered already by Kepler this century. The implications of the discovery of this exomoon could shed light on planetary evolution as well as the possibility of other life forms.