This artist’s impression depicts the exomoon candidate Kepler-1625b-i, the planet it is orbiting and the star in the centre of the star system. Kepler-1625b-i is the first exomoon candidate and, if confirmed, the first moon to be found outside the Solar System. Like many exoplanets, Kepler-1625b-i was discovered using the transit method. Exomoons are difficult to find because they are smaller than their companion planets, so their transit signal is weak, and their position in the system changes with each transit because of their orbit. This requires extensive modelling and data analysis.

This might offend some astronomers, but exoplanets are kind of old news. Over the course of two decades, telescope observations have pinpointed thousands of planets orbiting other stars across the cosmos. Some of these planets are as giant as Jupiter and smoldering hot. Others are more massive than Earth and covered in ice. A few reside in their solar system’s habitable zone, the not-too-hot, not-too-cold environment for liquid water. There have been so many discoveries in the past few years, in fact, that newly found exoplanets are announced now in batches of several hundred.

 

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