Results tagged “Exomoon”

Using NASA's Hubble and Kepler space telescopes, astronomers have uncovered tantalizing evidence of what could be the first discovery of a moon orbiting a planet outside our solar system.

Moons are suspected to influence rocky exoplanet habitability, and gaseous exoplanets in stellar habitable zones could harbour abundant and diverse moons to target in the search for extraterrestrial habitats.

Distant Moons May Harbor Life

In a paper published Wednesday (June 13) in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers at the University of California, Riverside and the University of Southern Queensland have identified more than 100 giant planets that potentially host moons capable of supporting life.

In the present study we explore the astrobiological significance of F-type stars of spectral type between F5 V and F9.5 V, which possess Jupiter-type planets within or close to their climatological habitable zones.

The diversity and quantity of moons in the Solar System suggest a manifold population of natural satellites exist around extrasolar planets.

Using Radio Waves to Detect Exomoons

Scientists hunting for life beyond Earth have discovered more than 1,800 planets outside our solar system, or exoplanets, in recent years, but so far, no one has been able to confirm an exomoon.

From analytical studies of tidal heating, eclipses and planetary illumination, it is clear that the exomoon habitable zone (EHZ) - the set of moon and host planet orbits that permit liquid water on an Earthlike moon's surface - is a manifold of higher dimension than the planetary HZ.

The habitable zone (HZ) is defined as the region around a star where a planet can support liquid water on its surface, which, together with an oxygen atmosphere, is presumed to be necessary (and sufficient) to develop and sustain life on the planet.

Despite years of high accuracy observations, none of the available theoretical techniques has yet allowed the confirmation of a moon beyond the Solar System.

The Habitability of Exomoons

When we think of where else life might exist in the universe, we tend to focus on planets. But on a grander cosmic scale, moons could prove the more common life-friendly abode.

The Kepler space telescope has detected transits of objects as small as the Earth's Moon, and moons as small as 0.2 Earth masses can be detected in the Kepler data by transit timing and transit duration variations of their host planets.

With most planets and planetary candidates detected in the stellar habitable zone being super-Earths and gas giants, rather than Earth-like planets, we naturally wonder if their moons could be habitable.

In the Jupiter-Io system, the moon's motion produces currents along the field lines that connect the moon to the Jupiter's polar regions, where the radio emission is modulated by the currents. Based on this process, we suggest that such modulation of planetary radio emissions may reveal the presence of exomoons around giant planets in exoplanetary systems.

Kepler-22b is the first transiting planet to have been detected in the habitable-zone of its host star. At 2.4 Earth radii, Kepler-22b is too large to be considered an Earth-analog, but should the planet host a moon large enough to maintain an atmosphere, then the Kepler-22 system may yet possess a telluric world.

NASA will host a news briefing at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, April 18, to announce new discoveries from the agency's Kepler mission. The briefing will be held in the Syvertson Auditorium, Building N-201, at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency's website.

In this paper, the detectability of habitable exomoons orbiting around giant planets in M-dwarf systems using Transit Timing Variations (TTVs) and Transit Timing Durations (TDVs) with Kepler-class photometry is investigated. Light curves of systems with various configurations were simulated around M-dwarf hosts of mass 0.5 Msun and radius 0.55 Rsun.

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