Astronomers search for habitable moons
2009-09-14 0:00

By Richard Gray | telegraph.co.uk



Comment: Is someone trying to go off planet?

Moons capable of supporting life like those portrayed in the popular Star Wars films could be scattered all over our galaxy, according to astronomers.

Scientists at University College London believe there are thousands of habitable moons orbiting planets in other solar systems trillions of miles from our own.

They have calculated that it should even be possible to spot these moons using a space telescope launched by Nasa earlier this year to hunt out other planets.

Dr David Kipping, from the department of physics and astronomy at University College London, will tell a conference on the search for habitable planets that the first habitable moons could be spotted within the next five years.

He claims there are more than 12,500 stars within sight of Nasa's Kepler Space Telescope that have the potential for moons orbiting in areas of space where conditions could be favourable to life – the so called habitable zone.

He and his colleagues have devised a new method for detecting moons in other solar systems – known as exomoons. Scientists only recently started to spot extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, and have been competing to find one that could support life.

Dr Kipping said: "For the first time, we have demonstrated that potentially-habitable moons up to hundreds of light years away may be detected with current instrumentation.

"As we ran the simulations, even we were surprised that moons as small as one-fifth of the Earth's mass could be spotted.

"It seems probable that many thousands, possibly millions, of habitable exomoons exist in the Galaxy and now we can start to look for them."

Around 370 exoplanets have now been discovered, but most are giant gas planets similar to Jupiter and so unlikely to harbour life.

Earlier this year astronomers announced the discovery of an exoplanet known as Gliese 581 d, which is 20 light years away and eight times the size of the Earth, and is now seen as the best contender to be habitable.

The Kepler Space Telescope, launched by Nasa in March this year, will spend the next three and a half years scouring the skies for Earth-sized, rocky planets that contain water and so could support life.

But Dr Kipping says it will also be possible to use Kepler to spot moons orbiting other planets by looking for tiny wobbles in their orbit. At the conference, Pathways to Habitable Planets, scientists will discuss the best ways to locate and characterise planets in other solar systems. By analysing the light reflected from such planets they hope to discover what chemicals are present on the surface, including water.

Dr Ignasi Ribas, from the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya, Spain, said: "The prospects we have in the coming years to find habitable planets and, even more, characterise them and look for signatures of biological activity are just mind boggling."

Source: telegraph.co.uk



Related Articles
Our Enigmatic Moon
The Moon - What Is It And Who Made It?
NASA gets cold feet on Moon base plan
Moon's South Pole Gets Close-Up in Restored Photos
NASA spacecraft will get clear pictures of Apollo relics on the Moon
Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits
Plants 'thrive' on Moon rock diet
Never-before-seen photo shows Neil Armstrong's face as he first walks across the moon
Moon Rock Fake
Are UFOs interfering with NASA's moon-colliding probe LCROSS?
Red Ice Radio - Mike Bara - Dark Mission, The Occult NASA Moon Mission
Red Ice Radio - Alfred Webre - Exopolitics, NASA Bombing of the Moon, Outer Space Treaty & E.T.
Earth's Moon a rare species
Solar system's unusual structure suggests existence of extraterrestrial civilizations
The Enchanted Universe
What if life on Earth did not begin on Earth?


Latest News from our Front Page

Sweden may be at war "in a few years" - top brass in leaked document
2016-02-13 5:24
In a few years Sweden may be engaged in a war with a “qualified opponent” after two centuries of peace, a senior Swedish commander has told soldiers in an internal brochure. The alarming message was reportedly sent by Major General Anders Brännström, the Army chief, in a brochure distributed among the participants of a major annual event that is to open ...
Danish imam urges govt to accept child marriages among refugees
2016-02-13 4:57
A high-profile imam has urged the Danish government to accept child brides, as the practice is part of the culture of many refugees arriving in the country. It follows an announcement by Denmark that such couples will be separated under Danish law. Imam Oussama El-Saadi, of the Aarhus mosque in Denmark, said that child brides should be looked at from a ...
White Parents in Virginia Shutdown White Guilt Video!
2016-02-13 4:56
You see folks? This is what happens when you stop blaming the Joo, and you get the fuck off your favorite bitch corner and start taking action! This is what happens when parents start parenting again! What? You’re gonna brainwash our kids with your filth and lies? We don’t think so. How would you like an empty school with no ...
Hungarian Top Economist: Civil War is Coming to Europe
2016-02-13 2:36
Zsolt Bayer, Hungarian journalist, publicist, and co-founder of Hungary's currently ruling political party, and Dr. László Bogár, former politician and leading economist, discuss the Cologne sexual assualts committed by migrants on New Year's Eve, 2016. This short part of the 60-minute long television program that aired on Echo TV on January 8, 2016, is of a rant by Mr. Bogár warning ...
British scientists granted permission to genetically modify human embryos
2016-02-12 23:48
The Francis Crick institute will genetically edit the leftover embryos from from IVF clinics British scientists have been granted permission to genetically modify human embryos by the fertility regulator. The scientists want to deactivate genes in leftover embryos from IVF clinics to see if it hinders development. It will only be the second time in the world that such a procedure has ...
More News »