Astronomers Spot Potential Exomoon the Size of Neptune

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Over the past few decades, astronomers have gradually increased the number of known exoplanets. Even the largest planets can be difficult to spot, however, and the moons are much smaller. Well, usually. Another team working with data from the left-wing Kepler telescope, estimates that the moon may orbit the earth for about 5,000 years from afar. It falls somewhere between the growth of the Earth and the giant Neptune gas. If confirmed, he may be the first known exomoon.

So far, astronomers have confirmed the existence of about 5,000 exoplanets, but we have no definite exomoons on the books. There are 12 or more people, including one was identified by the same team in 2018. That has not yet been confirmed, and it is the same here. Kepler (see below) stopped working a few years ago, but collected so much data that scientists still share it. There may be thousands of exoplanets as well as months of hiding in storage.

The moon may be in a star called Kepler-1708. The planet (Kepler-1708 b) is believed to be Jupiter’s size, so it is not surprising that it may have a massive moon orbiting it. The selected moon is called Kepler-1708 bi. At the lower end of its size, the Kepler-1708 bi may be slightly larger than Earth. In the end, it could be as big as Neptune. This means that we can only imagine how it was made, but the stone moon can still be there.

As with all Kepler observations, the availability of the Kepler-1708 bi depended on solar travel. When the Kepler-1708 b passes in front of its star, the light is dim. Kepler worked in the field of photography for a long time. By looking at dips again and again, astronomers can detect exoplanets that are invisible to traditional telescopes. The same goes for exomoons — we think. The signs from the moons around the planets are very hidden, which is why we have not yet confirmed their existence.

The group writes in the magazine Nature Astronomy that there is a one-percent chance that the detection of Kepler-1708 bi would be a mistake. This may sound close to all of us, but it is not enough for science. Although NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) may not see this far, the newly released James Webb Space Telescope could be powerful enough to see objects like the Kepler-1708 bi. It will be a few months before we know that Webb is working properly, but the installation and delivery went smoothly.

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