July 25, 2021

An exoluna the size of Neptune

An exoluna the size of Neptune


More than a quarter of a century ago, the Hubble Space Telescope surprises astronomers with its observations and is now one of the instruments that has provided "convincing evidence"e the first moon that orbits an exoplanet located more than 8,000 light years, informs Efe.

A study published by Science Advances gives the details about the detection of this candidate to exoluna, which is unusual due to its large size -comparable to the diameter of Neptuno- that in the Solar System, where there are 200 natural satellites cataloged, there is none of that size.

"This would be the first case of detection of a moon outside of our Solar System" and if it is confirmed with new Hubble observations "the finding could offer clues about the development of planetary systems," said one of the study's signatories David Kipping. from the American University of Columbia.

In addition, "I could assume that the experts had to revise their theories about how moons form around the planets," he added in a statement.

Kipping and his colleague Alex Tachey reviewed data on 284 exoplanets provided by the Kepler space observatory in search of exoplanets, and one of them, the Kepler 1625b, of gas type and the size of Jupiter, caught his attention because of its "transit" – moment in time. the one that the light of the star that orbits decreases when passing in front of it- presented "intriguing anomalies".

The experts were able to use the Hubble for 40 hours to do an intensive study of the planet, which gave them data four times more accurate than those obtained from Kepler.

Tachey explained, in a telephone press conference, that the data "suggest" that the time of use of the telescope was not enough to observe all the "transit" of the planet and therefore would like to return to access it.

The observations of the telescope on the transit of the planet in front of its star threw data "coherent with a moon behind the planet, like a dog that follows its owner with a leash", illustro Kipping.

The Hubble data not only showed a decrease in the star's light, but also supported the moon's hypothesis by determining that the transit of the planet began almost an hour and a half earlier than expected, a fact consistent with the existence of a planet and its satellite, both orbiting in a common center of gravity.

The expert considered that «an extraterrestrial civilization that observed the transit of the Earth and the Moon in front of the Sun would notice the same anomalies».

Although that anomaly in time could be explained by the presence of a second planet in the system, the Kepler observatory did not find, for four years, evidence that there is another around the star.

"A moon is the simplest and most natural explanation" for that type of brightness reduction curve and for the deviation of time, Teachey added.

Experts consider that the exoluna has only 1.5% of the mass of its planet, which would be close to the ratio that exists between the Earth and our satellite.

The exolunas are difficult to locate because they are smaller than their planet, their transit signal before the star is weak and changes position each time they cross it because it is also orbiting the planet. EFE

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