In Search of Exomoons

In a paper to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Academy of Sciences, available online now here, Dr. David Kipping of University College London, ponders the feasibility of detecting moons orbiting exoplanets. Kipping points out that variations in the transit method used to detect extrasolar planets (exoplanets) can be used to determine if there are moons orbiting the exoplanet being studied. He refers to these techniques as transit time variation (TTV) and transit duration variation (TDV). While the details are of course mathematical, his appendices which review the mathematical details are written well enough for anyone with a grasp of algebra to comprehend. Remember, the recently launched Kepler mission will be utilizing the transit method to discover exoplanets, and with Dr. Kipping’s technique, perhaps even exomoons.

Brightest Radio Supernova Reported

M82 Composite Image from NOAO
Image Credit: Mark Westmoquette (University College London), Jay Gallagher (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Linda Smith (University College London), WIYN//NSF, NASA/ESA
In a paper to be published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, now available online here, an international group of astronomers report on the discovery, within M82, of what may be the brightest radio supernova ever. M82 (aka NGC 3034) is an irregular galaxy in Ursa Major located about 12 million light years away. Due to its unusual shape it is referred to as the “Cigar Galaxy.” It’s also known as a starburst galaxy as it appears to be in a stage where it produces an unusual amount of “young” stars.