Alien Moons Could Be as Habitable as Exoplanets
Astronomers say they’re hot on the trail of real-life alien moons — which could also potentially be viable candidates for habitable worlds, researchers say. Astronomers have found roughly 850 known alien worlds. And as recently announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting, the Kepler spacecraft has picked up 2,740 candidate planets since its 2009 launch.
Scientists are looking for the slice of this population that lies in what’s known as the habitable zone, a region just close enough to the home star for liquid water to potentially exist. Moons would be more challenging to find than planets – they’re much smaller, after all – but astronomers are on the hunt. A study to be published in January’s issue of the journal Astrobiology lays out the potential and drawbacks of habitable-zone moons.