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Possible exomoon candidate discovered


Posted on Friday, 11 April, 2014 | Comment icon 41 comments

Could scientists have discovered a moon orbiting a distant planet ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL
Scientists have identified what could be a natural satellite orbiting a planet in another solar system.
The discovery was made quite by accident by astronomers observing a rare galactic alignment using telescopes in New Zealand and Tasmania.

It will be difficult to determine for sure if the object is indeed a moon, but if it is then it could be the first to be discovered outside of our own solar system.

"We won't have a chance to observe the exomoon candidate again," said lead study author David Bennett. "But we can expect more unexpected finds like this."

The discovery was made possible thanks to a technique known as gravitational microlensing in which a star passing in front of a more distant star can magnify and focus the light of the one behind it.

Source: NASA.gov | Comments (41)

Tags: Exomoon, Extrasolar Planet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #32 Posted by DieChecker on 15 April, 2014, 5:43
I think you have hugely underestimated the difficulty of the task. My point is that it is something that could be done. Pluto is three and a half million times closer to us than this possible exoplanet.Light obeys an inverse square law, in other word, double the distance and the light is only a quarter as bright. Triple the distance and the light is one ninth as bright Which is why you use a laser that focuses the light energy into a beam, right? Though it disperses at the same rate, starting with a beam that is already very narrow allows the wattage per area to retain a lot of energy over a l... [More]
Comment icon #33 Posted by taniwha on 15 April, 2014, 10:29
Wow this topic has really been derailed hasn't it? It has very little to do with exoplanets any more!!! The speed of light in a vacuum is a universal hard limit. Light can travel slower in other mediums. Therefore it is possible for sound to travel faster than light in these circumstances, but the sound is not travelling faster than the speed of light (which IS the speed of light in a vacuum). I hope that made sense. All of which seems be lost on tanwha who simply does not see that his idea is unworkable. So what your saying is that in a vaccuum a tortoise travels faster than sound, yeah yeah.... [More]
Comment icon #34 Posted by JesseCuster on 15 April, 2014, 16:47
Not totally true. Radio telescopes are used as radar systems. There are several topics on this site that I have posted showing radar images (movies in some cases) of asteroids made using this technique. It was also used to measure the rotation speeds of Venus and Mercury before the advent of space probes. A fair point, but I don't fancy scaling that idea up to trying to detect craters on a moon that's hundreds of light years away as opposed mere astronomical units away.
Comment icon #35 Posted by JesseCuster on 15 April, 2014, 17:01
Of course not. A star casts light not shadow. Your point please?A remark like that makes me realise that any further discussion is clearly not going to be productive.
Comment icon #36 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 April, 2014, 17:43
A remark like that makes me realise that any further discussion is clearly not going to be productive. I have to agree that it does rather highlight a stunning lack of understanding of extraordinarily basic science. tanwha, what exactly do you think a shadow is? How do you think they are formed? Edited to add: Whilst we are at it, what do you think sound is? These are very basic concepts which you have demonstrated no understanding of at all. If you don't understand what light and sound are (and you really don't seem to) how do you think you are in a position to determine what is and isn't pos... [More]
Comment icon #37 Posted by spacecowboy342 on 16 April, 2014, 2:06
My point is that it is something that could be done. Which is why you use a laser that focuses the light energy into a beam, right? Though it disperses at the same rate, starting with a beam that is already very narrow allows the wattage per area to retain a lot of energy over a longer distance. It is a function of the energy into the beam and the focus of the beam. I did say we'd need titanic sensor arrays that would be cripplingly expensive. How hard would it be to sense a return signal from the Moon, without a mirror, using every major telescope in North America in array? I've read that wit... [More]
Comment icon #38 Posted by DieChecker on 16 April, 2014, 4:30
You are going to aim this laser at a point where this moon is going to be in 3200 years and hope your receiver is lined up to receive the signal in 6400 years? Sounds like a long shot at best Totally. I think I'll spend the money elsewhere.
Comment icon #39 Posted by taniwha on 16 April, 2014, 8:12
A remark like that makes me realise that any further discussion is clearly not going to be productive. Strictly speaking you are right. It was nice talking with you.
Comment icon #40 Posted by taniwha on 16 April, 2014, 8:35
I have to agree that it does rather highlight a stunning lack of understanding of extraordinarily basic science. tanwha, what exactly do you think a shadow is? How do you think they are formed? My answer was rhetorical. Edited to add: Whilst we are at it, what do you think sound is? My question was rhetorical. These are very basic concepts which you have demonstrated no understanding of at all. If you don't understand what light and sound are (and you really don't seem to) how do you think you are in a position to determine what is and isn't possible? Thats a very big IF.
Comment icon #41 Posted by Harte on 16 April, 2014, 16:51
So what your saying is that in a vaccuum a tortoise travels faster than sound, yeah yeah. So tell me where does sound energy go in a vaccuum. Has anyone even turned speakers on in outer space to test it out? Not to my knowledge. But in my Physics class, the students observed that sound doesn't travel in a vacuum by pumping the air out of a chamber containing a speaker. Sound energy doesn't reach a vacuum, since the energy of sound involves the compression and rarefication of a substance (like a gas, a liquid or a solid.) Harte


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