Scientists come out with a model to find elusive exo-moons – Here’s how

Scientists have discovered nearly five thousand exoplanets with the help of ground-based and space telescopes.

Scientists come out with a model to find elusive exo-moons – Here’s how
The solar system consists of a large number of natural satellites with numerous masses and sizes. (PIB)

In a significant development, scientists have developed a method to trace exomoons that remain elusive so far. Exomoons are considered to be those natural satellites that revolve around exoplanets (planets that orbit around stars other than the sun). Scientists have developed the new model with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The step may also help in finding exo-moons in the future, and understanding more of the vast universe.

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Till now, scientists have discovered nearly five thousand exoplanets with the help of ground-based and space telescopes, including CoRoT, Spitzer, Kepler, and Hubble space telescopes. However, exomoon around any of these planets continues to remain untraceable.

Importantly, the solar system consists of a large number of natural satellites with numerous masses and sizes. A number of these satellites influence the ambient environment of the Solar planet. It is for this reason that a huge number of exomoons are expected to be present, which may also play an important role in the habitability of rocky exoplanets in the habitable zone of stars.

Even as a number of exoplanets are detected with the help of a photometric transit method and a photometric transit method, signals of exo-moons are too weak, because of their small sizes. Scientists at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (Bengaluru) have suggested that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is powerful enough to detect the transit signal of exomoons in moon-hosting exoplanets.

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It may be noted that Professor Sujan Sengupta and his student Suman Saha have together developed a model that uses the radius and orbital properties of the host planet as well as its moon as parameters to model the photometric transit light curve of moon-hosting exoplanets by incorporating a number of orientations of the moon-planet-star system.

Notably, the co-alignment or non-coalignment of the planet’s orbit and the moon are used as parameters. These parameters can be used to model orbital alignments for a star-planet-moon system. With the help of these generic models and research of photometric transit light curves of exoplanets, a large number of exomoons can be detected in the future.

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