Monday, February 6, 2012

Hunter's Moons: Astronomers Use Kepler Spacecraft to Search for Exomoons

There may be Earth-size satellites orbiting exoplanets that can be detected using Kepler data. But where the HEK are they?

Exomoons in an artist's conception MOONRISE: An artist's conception of an exoplanet hosting smaller moons. Image: David A. Aguilar (CfA)
Astronomers have discovered a trove of exoplanets—more than 700 worlds in orbit around distant stars, with leads on thousands of additional suspects. So now, naturally, they're beginning to ask: What moons might be in orbit about these planets?
It is a reasonable question. Most of the planets in our solar system host sizable natural satellites. And in some planetary systems, the moons of an extrasolar planet could themselves be favorable habitats for extraterrestrial life.



Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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