A Planet-Sized Moon Outside Our Solar System Might Change Everything We Know About the Universe

Khryss | Published 2017-08-03 06:25

We might just have the discovery of a lifetime--the first ever moon outside our solar system!

“We’ve had candidates in the past and investigated them, and most of them have evaporated,” says study's author, David Kipping at Columbia University in New York.

Also known as exomoon, the potential discovery was found by Kipping and his colleagues with the use of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. It orbits a planet the same size of Jupiter (but about ten times its mass) around its sun-sized start called Kepler-1625. And if it truly exists, the moon would be about the size of the Neptune. The system is almost 4,000 light-years away and is quite faint.

“If there really is something there, it’s such a faint star that it’d have to be a planet-sized moon for them to have seen it transit,” says David Waltham at Royal Holloway, University of London. “It would be spectacularly different than anything we see in the solar system.”

The team said their observations had a statistical confidence level of about 4.1 sigma that it's truly a moon. This means if real, there's only around 1 in 16,000 chance of seeing the same exact signal again.

“It is consistent with the signal that we might expect from a moon, but it might be consistent with other things as well,” says Kipping.

This, however, still needs to be confirmed with the use of a Hubble Space Telescope. “Until we get the measurements from Hubble, it may as well be 50-50 in my mind," Kipping told BBC News.

“It may prove to be nothing, or it may prove to be a really fabulous discovery,” says Waltham. “We won’t know until the Hubble data comes back.”

This could defy our pre-existing beliefs and theories about how other solar systems work and completely change the way we know the universe.  Galileo must be so proud!


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