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Distant moons may be habitable

Washington D.C [USA] Jun 15: Not just planets, now distant moons may harbour life, finds a study.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Southern Queensland identified around 100 giant planets that potentially host moons capable of supporting life.

Since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s Kepler telescope was launched in 2009, scientists have identified thousands of planets outside the solar system, called exoplanets.

A primary goal of the Kepler mission is to identify planets that are in the habitable zones of their stars, meaning it's neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water and potentially life to exist.

Associate professor of planetary astrophysics, Stephen Kame said, "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."
Exomoons might provide a favorable environment for life, perhaps even better than Earth, speculated the Scientists. The reason behind this is they receive energy not only from their star but also from radiation reflected from their planet. However, until now, no exomoons have been confirmed.

"Now that we have created a database of the known giant planets in the habitable zone of their star, observations of the best candidates for hosting potential exomoons will be made to help refine the expected exomoon properties," said Michelle Hill, an undergraduate student at the University of Southern Queensland.

The study has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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