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Astronomers are searching for moons outside our solar system, with interesting results

Astronomers have announced a possible discovery of the outer moon, the second sighting so far. The scientists behind the new research say their analysis points to a “mini-moon” the size of Neptune orbiting a planet similar in size to Jupiter.

Not so long ago, scientists proudly announced for the first time that they had discovered a planet outside our solar system, called outer planets. This was followed by a search for planets that showed the greatest possible similarity with Earth. Since then, astronomers have taken another step forward in their efforts to understand the universe. They do this by locating exomoons, natural satellites that orbit exoplanets.

“The things everyone suspected of having”

“These are things that everyone suspected, but not a lot of formal research was done until 2007,” said Mariales Rosario Franco, an astrophysicist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico. “The science of exomanes is still in a fairly early stage and therefore full of possibilities. It is something we only now suspect that we can observe. We do not perceive these things directly; we are only aware of the perturbation caused by the presence of objects in the normal signal of an exoplanet.”

To find an exoplanet, Kepler images of the star had to be tirelessly scanned until 2018. Scientists then look for a subtle change in the brightness of an exoplanet. This indicates the planet’s passage between the star and the telescope. In the new study, scientists examined 70 of these data sets, each representing a cold gas giant, like the massive planets in our solar system. The researchers then used a series of models to see what Kepler’s observations matched with what they would expect to see if such a planet had a moon.

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Clues, but no conclusive evidence

Only three stars were chosen. For one of the galaxies, the team realized that Kepler himself had caused the signal; For another galaxy, the signal could come from dark spots moving across the star’s surface. But for the last candidate, the star known as Kepler 1708, none of their alternative explanations worked. The first exomoon It was just discovered in a galaxy called Kepler 1625.

Rosario Franco said the new study uses a similar approach, but is more careful than the rigorous process already followed in the first study. According to Rosario-Franco, Kepler 1625 is “widely accepted by the astrophysical community,” although its existence has not yet been fully confirmed. In any case, this discovery gives us a glimpse into the variety of planetary ecosystems that can be found in our galaxy. This science allows us to better understand how moons form and evolve, both in our solar system and far away. Perhaps there are more surprises waiting for us.