Possible spotting of a large exomoon 4000 lightyears from earth
Results are being gathered from the Hubble telescope to confirm the sighting of a very large exomoon 4000 lightyears from earth. However, this information has been released tentatively, by David Kepping, from the University of Colombia, as the results could be some other astrophysical phenomena.
The search for exomoons around exoplanets has been unfruitful. Astronomers have used the Kepler telescope to search for lunar candidates in the past. Although results have sometimes indicated the presence of exomoons, they often turn out to be bogus and ‘evaporate’ overtime (Nature, 2017).
David Kepping and his team, from Colombia University, in New York, have been observing significant dips in light emissions from the main sequence star, Kepler-1625, over a prolonged period of approximately 5 years. The data gathered is comprehensive enough to make the announcement with relative confidence. New Scientist Magazine have also disclosed that Kipping and his team believe that there is only a 1 in 16000 chance of seeing such a signal, meaning that the data is suggestive of an exomoon. However Kipping stated that ‘…. it might be consistent with other things as well.’ (New Scientist, August, 2017).
Although there are reservations about publishing claims that may later prove to be bogus, as this discredits science overtime, it was felt that the evidence was strong enough to publish the results.
It culminated in the announcement that “exomoon candidate Kepler-1625 b I” had been observed orbiting a planet 4,000 light years (1,230 parsecs) from Earth, in an article posted on 27 July. That paper, reporting the results of a 5-year search for exomoons, was hastily amended to include the exomoon claim. (Nature, 2017)
Although this discovery is significant, in that it will be the largest moon astronomers have detected and it will also be the discovery of the first exomoon, further analysis of Hubble data will be require before indisputable clarification can be gained.