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Ask Ethan: Can We Find Exoplanets With Exomoons Like Ours?

6 Apr 2019, 14:01 UTC
Ask Ethan: Can We Find Exoplanets With Exomoons Like Ours?
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Illustration of an exoplanetary system, potentially with an exomoon orbiting it. While we have yet to find a true ‘Earth-twin’ system, with an Earth-sized planet with a Moon-sized moon in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star, it may be possible in the not-too-distant future. (NASA/DAVID HARDY, VIA ASTROART.ORG)In all the Universe, there’s only one Earth. But can we find the other worlds that are like ours?Even though the ingredients for life have been confirmed to be practically everywhere we look, the only world where we’ve definitively confirmed its existence is Earth. Exoplanet science has exploded over the past 30 years, and we’ve learned of many worlds that are not only potentially habitable, but quite different from our own. We’ve found super-Earths, which may yet be rocky with thin, life-supporting atmospheres. We’ve found Earth-sized and smaller worlds around dwarf stars at the right temperatures for liquid water. And we’ve found giant planets whose moons, yet undiscovered, might have the capacity to support life.But do Earth-like worlds need a large moon to make life possible? Could large moons around giant planets support life? And what are our detection capabilities for exomoons today? That’s what Patreon supporterTim Graham wants to know, asking:[A]re ...

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