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.