“There are currently 175 known moons orbiting the eight planets in our solar system. While most of these moons orbit Saturn and Jupiter, which are outside the Sun’s habitable zone, that may not be the case in other solar systems,” said Stephen Kane, an associate professor of planetary astrophysics and a member of the University of California Riverside’s Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center about the life-bearing potential of moons of planets beyond our solar system. “Including rocky exomoons in our search for life in space will greatly expand the places we can look.”
I’m hopeful that other planets around M dwarfs could keep their atmospheres, says Laura Kreidberg, a researcher at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, about a new study using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope provides a rare glimpse of conditions on the surface of a rocky planet, LHS 3844b, located 48.6 light-years from Earth. “The terrestrial planets in our solar system are enormously diverse, and I expect the same will be true for exoplanet systems.”
“This is a remarkable time in human history and a huge leap for our understanding of our place in the universe,” said astronomer Keivan Stassun of Vanderbilt University, a member of the TESS science team that will observe 400,000 stars across the whole sky to catch a glimpse of an exoplanet transiting across the face of its star. The stars selected are bright, cool dwarfs, with temperatures roughly between 2,700 and 5,000 degrees Kelvin. The closest are only approximately 6 light-years from Earth.