Researchers had previously claimed to have found evidence of moons orbiting exoplanets Kepler-1625b and Kepler-1708b, but a new study now raises doubts about these claims. The study was conducted by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. The researchers used their new computer algorithm, Pandora, to analyze observations from space telescopes and found that the evidence for exomoons was inconclusive.
In our Solar System, most planets have moons, so scientists believe that exoplanets in distant star systems likely have moons as well. However, it is difficult to find evidence of exomoons because they are much smaller than their home planets and hard to detect. To make the search easier, the researchers developed an algorithm that can analyze millions of light curves to look for signs of moons around exoplanets.
The study found that scenarios without an exomoon could explain the observational data just as accurately as those with a moon for both Kepler-1708b and Kepler-1625b. The researchers also discovered that exomoon search algorithms often produce false-positive results, and their analysis showed that only particularly large moons in wide orbits could be detectable using current technology.
The researchers believe that the first exomoons discovered in future observations will be unusual and exciting to explore.
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