Hidden Exomoon


A team of scientists revealed that they still cannot pinpoint the exact identity of an object orbiting a planet which is a little bigger than Jupiter and located some 8000 light-years away.

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The first sighting of this suspected exomoon was reported in 2017, after being spotted by the now-defunct Kepler telescope. A year later, in 2018, a pair of scientists named Alex Teachey and David Kipping reported new data coming from the Hubble Space Telescope. But these findings were still not enough to confirm whether the exomoon exists.

During a meeting held on January 10 by the American Astronomical Society, it has been revealed that the scientists are having a lot of difficulties when trying to determine the exact identity of the mysterious object. The uncertainty stems from the reported size of the moon. Early estimates say that it is about the size of Neptune. The issue is that moon formation theories predict much smaller sizes for exomoons than that. Additionally, the scientists cannot rule out the possibility of the object being a planet. The scientists want to be entirely certain before naming this a discovery.

Another issue the scientists are facing is that the committee responsible for delegating Hubble’s observing time rejected the request from Teachey and his colleagues to look for the moon during May 2019. The response was to be expected due to the fact there is no way to determine when exactly the moon might come into view and where.

Telescopes on the ground are trying to determine whether the object is a planet or a moon based on its gravitational tugs. That process is unfortunately much slower than the one used by the Hubble and the Kepler telescopes. It is so slow in fact that it might take more than 10 years to be completed.

The good thing is the object is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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