Scientists may have discovered a moon orbiting an exoplanet for the first time ever.
The team, headed by an astronomer from Columbia University, are reporting that they found evidence of a moon circling a planet outside of our solar system, although the findings have not yet been confirmed and will require further observations. If they turn out to be correct, the moon’s existence could tell experts more about the makeup of the universe as well as our own solar system.
This possible moon was first detected using data from NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft, which has been used to search for exoplanets. The Hubble Space Telescope is scheduled to take a closer look at the area in the future, according to the team’s study, and it could possibly confirm the presence of the moon, dubbed Kepler-1625b I — because it is orbiting the planet Kepler-1625b, which in turn orbits the star Kepler-1625.
“This candidate has passed a thorough preliminary inspection, but we emphasize again our position that the Kepler data are insufficient to make a conclusive statement about the existence of this moon,” the authors warn. “Only after the [Hubble] observation is made should any claim about this moon’s existence be given much credence.”
If this hunch proves to be real, it would be the first moon outside our solar system ever discovered.
It may also be the largest moon discovered anywhere: The scientists estimate that it is roughly the size of Neptune, which would make its host planet perhaps the size of Jupiter, the largest planet in this solar system.