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Pandora plus Endor: Multi hab-moon motherworld discovered

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Corot-9b 'a very exciting place for moon-dweller hunters'

While life along Earthly lines would be highly unlikely to appear on a planet such as Corot-9b, there's a more than sporting chance that it has large moons as Jupiter and Saturn do. The Saturnian moon Titan even has an atmosphere denser than ours, though this is made up of straight nitrogen with clouds of methane and patio-gas, rather than nitrox-mix air with added water in various forms as we have here.

But a large moon of Corot-9b could have a nice warm atmosphere with liquid water on the surface - the same conditions in which life arose on Earth. Such a moon might be home to an alien carbon-based biosphere, perhaps even including intelligent natives - as in the stories of the extrasolar moons Pandora and Endor.

We got in touch with Blighty's top exomoonologist, Dave Kipping of University College London, to find out what the chances were of finding blue pigtail-brainplug dragonriders or small, irritating, homicidal teddybears out in the Corot-9 system.

"CoRoT-9 is a very exciting system for exomoon hunters," confirmed Kipping. "Moons as large as the Earth could not only be dynamically stable but also detectable with the CoRoT spacecraft."

But what about the aliens?

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