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See Inside Scientific American Volume 310, Issue 1

What an Exomoon Would Look Like from Earth [Video]

Moons orbiting distant planets might be visible in existing spacecraft data
exomoon hunt


Hunt for Exomoons: In addition to the host of new planets discovered by the Kepler mission, we are now capable of detecting large moons circling planets around other stars. These exomoons modify the shape, timing, and duration of the transit lightcurve of their host planet, and this illustration demonstrates all of these effects. - Alex Parker
Vimeo/Creative Commons/Alex Parker

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In “Astronomers Search for Moons Circling Distant Exoplanets” author Lee Billings explores the hunt for moons orbiting distant planets—exomoons. The project uses data from the Kepler satellite mission, which (until technical issues sidelined it earlier this year) had been focusing on a single spot in the sky in the hope of catching so-called “transits”—instances when an exoplanet would pass in front of its host star, blocking some of the light. If any moons orbited those planets, they could also be visible in the data. This video animation by Alex Parker, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, shows what a theoretical exomoon would look like.

The Hunt for Exomoons - Lightcurve Demo from Alex Parker on Vimeo under a Creative Commons license.

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