An artist’s impression shows the Jupiter-sized exoplanet Kepler-1625b transiting its parent star with the Neptune-sized candidate exomoon in tow. (Dan Durda Illustration)
With a lot of help from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers now feel confident enough to publish their evidence for the first moon detected in orbit around a planet beyond our solar system.
But they’re still not completely confident.
“At this point, it’s up to us to report what we’re seeing, hand it over to the community and let the community probe it,” said Columbia University astronomer Alex Teachey, one of the authors of a study about the find published in the open-access journal Science Advances. “If they see what we see, I expect some people will be convinced and other people will be skeptical. And that’s all part of the process.”
Reports about the exoplanet and its apparent exomoon have been circulating for more than a year, thanks in part to the Hubble data-gathering campaign. Previous observations from NASA’s Kepler space telescope suggested that the Jupiter-sized planet, known as Kepler-1625b, had a world about the size of Neptune in orbit around it. But there weren’t enough observations to make the case conclusively.
That’s where Hubble was able ...