Feeds

'Exomoonologist': NASA can detect forest moon of Endor

Possible multi-civilisation star systems too

Application security programs and practises

One of Blighty's top exomoonologists has said that NASA's new "Kepler" space telescope - in addition to its hotly-anticipated ability to discover habitable planets orbiting other stars - will also be able to detect habitable moons orbiting the gas giants of far-flung solar systems.

David Kipping, an astronomer at University College London (UCL), specialises in the hunting of "exomoons", moons beyond our solar system. He and his colleagues' latest research indicates that NASA's new Kepler space telescope - or another of similar quality - should be capable of spotting even quite small moons, down to just 20 per cent of the mass of Earth.

Such moons might easily be found orbiting large gas giant planets in other star systems: if these gas planets lay within the liquid-water zone of their parent sun(s), the moons could well be habitable for Earth-style life - as depicted in some versions of the Star Wars universe, where the "forest moon of Endor" is occasionally shown in orbit around a gas giant. Moons orbiting a gas giant within a liquid-water zone are also one of the more credible ways that a star system might contain more than one inhabited body, so allowing such otherwise implausible concepts as interplanetary trade, warfare, conquest, etc.*

According to Kipping, who says that "exomoonology" is one of his primary interests:

Habitable-zone exomoons down to 0.2 Earth masses may be detected and ~25,000 stars could be surveyed for habitable-zone exomoons within Kepler's field-of-view. A Galactic Plane survey with Kepler-class photometry could potentially survey over one million stars for habitable-zone exomoons. In conclusion, we propose that habitable exomoons will be detectable should they exist in the local part of the galaxy.

If they aren't detected, then, we can safely assume that the galaxy is significantly more dull than one with inhabitable moons would be.

Kipping and his colleagues' paper, On the detectability of habitable exomoons with Kepler-class photometry, has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. You can read it online already, though, here. ®

Bootnote

* Not that these wouldn't still tend to require spacecraft much more advanced than those of present-day Earth: but such activities would be hugely more achievable than interstellar interaction.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.