In the vein of Avatar’s Pandora, the first known moon outside our solar system has been discovered.
To top it off, it seems alot stranger than we could have imagined. Exomoons have long been predicted to have existed, with some even possibly being habitable worlds, however until now, they have eluded researchers.
“This is the first serious candidate from any survey that I am aware of,” says astronomer David Kipping of Harvard University, who was not involved in the discovery.
Unlike exomoons in famous movies such as Avatar and Return Of The Jedi, and the moons in our very own solar system, the moon and its exoplanet seem to be adrift in the cosmos, far away from any star.
The objects were detected using an unusual method – most of the 1000+ exoplanets discovered so far were found by analysing changes in the light of their star, but a select few have been discovered using a technique called microlensing. When an object passes in front of its star, as observed from Earth, it bends the light of the star around it, like focusing a lens, making the star appear temporarily brighter.
Sitting about 1800 light years from Earth, it is suggested that a possibility is that the planet and its moon were ejected from its original star system. As well as being massive, according to researchers models, the moon would be orbiting approximately 20 million kilometers from its planet – an incredible distance by the standards of our solar system.
Read the entire article here at The New Scientist.