Remember the Petridish crowdfunded science site? This blog donated a few dollars to the Search for Exomoons research awhile ago. Well, they haven’t found an exomoon yet, but they did just publish a newly discovered planet in Science, a happy byproduct of the successfully crowdfunded research.
When the team looked at the data that Kepler has made public, they found something unusual with the planetary candidate KOI-872.01 (KOI stands for “Kepler Object of Interest”). It had some of the largest timing variations ever detected—about two-hour variations in an orbit that takes a bit under 34 days. But there was no sign of any transit duration variations, which should be present if there was a moon. All of which suggests that the planet was being pulled around by another planet Kepler hadn’t detected.
Hooray. Though our contribution was relatively tiny, it feels really fantastic to have contributed at all. Petridish has a number of exciting looking projects currently seeking funding, though I am personally holding out for another SF/space related idea.