In the search for extraterrestrial life, we should look to exomoons

exomoons extaterretrial life image 6103 exomoon 1
Artist’s impression of a potentially habitable exomoon orbiting a giant planet. Sci-News.com

The search for life outside of our planet has a new target: exomoons. Traditionally scientists have looked to other planets for signs of life, but a new study by an astrophysicist from the University of Lincoln, U.K., suggests we may be more successful if we started looking at moons as well.

Dr. Phil Sutton looked for exomoons orbiting the planet J1407b, a gas giant which is one of the first planets with a large ring system to be discovered outside our Solar System. Called a “super-Saturn,” the 16 million-year-old planet is located 434 light-years away. The planet’s vast system of rings means a good possibility that moons could be found in orbit around it.

This is important because relatively few exoplanets have been found in the “habitable zone” around stars, where they are close enough to their stars for liquid water to be present on their surface, but far enough away that the water doesn’t vaporize. It is generally believed that liquid water is an essential component for the development of life, making exoplanets in the habitable zone promising targets for investigation. Because there are few of these planets, we could instead look at moons, which Sutton believes are more likely to host liquid water.

“These moons can be internally heated by the gravitational pull of the planet they orbit, which can lead to them having liquid water well outside the normal narrow habitable zone for planets that we are currently trying to find Earth-like planets in,” Sutton explained to Sci News. “I believe that if we can find them, moons offer a more promising avenue to finding extraterrestrial life.”

In his study of J1407b, Sutton modeled the rings around the planet, which are 200 times the size of those around Saturn. In the case of Saturn, there are gaps in the rings which are caused by the presence of nearby moons. But in the case of J1407b, Sutton found that if he added a moon to the model at various distances from the planet, it did not explain the gaps observed in the rings.

The study will be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Astronomical Society and is available to view on pre-publication archive arXiv.

Emerging Tech

The best deepfakes on the web: Baby Elon, Ryan Reynolds Wonka, and beyond

Deepfakes, the A.I.-aided face-swapping technology that threatens the future of truth as we know it, are everywhere. Here are some of the scariest, funniest, and most convincing we've seen.
Gaming

From the very best to the worst, here are all the Pokémon games ranked

With Pokémon Sword and Shield en route to Nintendo Switch later this year, we decided to rank the first seven generations of Pokémon games from best to worst. Which generation made us want to catch 'em all the most?
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Web

Were they really that bad? Here are the 10 most disliked videos on YouTube

Ever wondered which videos are the most disliked videos on YouTube? Well, we have the top ten list you’re looking for. Here are the latest videos with the most dislikes currently on YouTube.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants your help developing autonomous robots to explore other worlds

NASA is asking for the public's help to create the robots which could one day explore the moon, Mars, and beyond. It has launched the second phase of its Space Robotics Challenge to develop autonomous functionalities of the robots.
News

Domino’s swerves around traffic by expanding its ebike pizza delivery service

Your Domino’s pizza could now be delivered to you via ebike. Through a partnership with Rad Power Bikes, Domino’s is hoping to solve the problems of traffic congestion and the difficulty of finding parking for those delivering pizza in…
Emerging Tech

Amazing app promises a full fitness checkup from a 30-second selfie

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed an app that's able to gather vital health information about users with nothing more invasive than a 30-second selfie. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Europe’s free land could house enough wind turbines to power the world

Think wind turbines aren't a realistic means of powering the world? An international team of researchers have worked out that there is enough available land in Europe to do the job.
Emerging Tech

DARPA’s next robotics competition is an obstacle course in an abandoned mine

Kicking off this week, the DARPA Subterranean Challenge will put 11 robotics teams through their paces in a simulated disaster scenario in a defunct mine system in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Emerging Tech

Google’s soccer-playing A.I. hopes to master the world’s most popular sport

Think the player A.I. in FIFA ‘19 was something special? You haven’t seen anything yet! That’s because Google is developing its own soccer-playing artificial intelligence. And, if the company’s history with machine intelligence is…
Emerging Tech

Amazon’s facial recognition updates can detect fear, among other emotions

Amazon’s facial recognition software can detect emotion on people’s faces. The company announced improvements in emotion detection, including: Happy, sad, angry, surprised, disgusted, calm, confused, and fear.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is developing A.I. missiles that can choose their own targets

The U.S. military wants to equip itself with a new type of artificial intelligence-guided missile, which will use A.I. smarts to pursue its targets. Prototypes will be shown off in 2021.
News

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.
Emerging Tech

Astro the dog-inspired quadruped robot can sit, lie down, and… learn?

Move over Spot! Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have built a new dog robot called Astro. Thanks to deep learning technology, it promises to be able to learn just like a real dog.