If confirmed, it would be the first ever discovered celestial object
Astronomers have identified what they believe may be the first satellite ever discovered outside our solar system. The findings are preliminary because the celestial objects are too far away to be directly observed.
Details of the discovery were published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy. The satellite apparently orbits a star about 5,500 light-years from Earth and has been named Kepler-1708 bi. If evidence from the now-retired Kepler space telescope is anything to go by, the newly discovered moon could be 2.6 times the size of Earth and made of gas.
To date, scientists have had to prove the existence of about 5,000 planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets. However, so far, only two exomoons, including Kepler-1708 bi, have been identified. The first was discovered in 2017; however, its existence remains unproven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Because of the distance between our solar system and these moons, it’s simply impossible to see them directly most of the time. Astronomers must rely on circumstantial evidence of very faint, regular dips in brightness from exoplanets, known as transit light curves.
The researchers believe that exomoons are very different from the moons we observe within our solar system in terms of the formation processes involved and their orbital patterns.
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