Feeds

'Exomoonologist': NASA can detect forest moon of Endor

Possible multi-civilisation star systems too

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.