Volume 588, April 2016
|Number of page(s)||4|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||14 March 2016|
Transits of extrasolar moons around luminous giant planets
Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research,
Received: 2 October 2015
Accepted: 1 February 2016
Beyond Earth-like planets, moons can be habitable, too. No exomoons have been securely detected, but they could be extremely abundant. Young Jovian planets can be as hot as late M stars, with effective temperatures of up to 2000 K. Transits of their moons might be detectable in their infrared photometric light curves if the planets are sufficiently separated (≳10 AU) from the stars to be directly imaged. The moons will be heated by radiation from their young planets and potentially by tidal friction. Although stellar illumination will be weak beyond 5 AU, these alternative energy sources could liquify surface water on exomoons for hundreds of Myr. A Mars-mass H2O-rich moon around β Pic b would have a transit depth of 1.5 × 10-3, in reach of near-future technology.
Key words: astrobiology / methods: observational / techniques: photometric / eclipses / planets and satellites: detection / infrared: planetary systems
© ESO, 2016
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