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Sat Jun 27, 2020, 07:05 PM

6 exomoons orbiting alien worlds? Well, it's complicated.

By Meghan Bartels a day ago

That's no moon, not necessarily.

Scientists have spotted thousands of worlds in other solar systems, so many that exoplanets have become a dime a dozen. But in our neighborhood, three quarters of planets have at least one moon, and no such object in other systems has been confidently discovered so far such worlds are just too small and far away.

Now, a new paper points to six exoplanets where wobbles in their data may be caused by exomoons. But that doesn't necessarily guarantee the presence of such moons, and there's no way right now for scientists to determine the real details of the situation. Those are big challenges for any research to overcome.

"We can say these six new systems are completely consistent with exomoons," lead author Chris Fox, a doctoral candidate at Western University in Canada, said in a statement. "But we don't have the technology to confirm them by imaging them directly. That will have to wait for further advancements."

But exomoons are tantalizing enough that scientists don't want to simply wait around, Alex Teachey, a doctoral candidate at Columbia University who specializes in exomoons, told Space.com via email.


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