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Planet 10

The formation and detectability of exomoons

Principal Investigators

  • Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Kley
    Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Tübingen
  • Dr. Christoph Schäfer
    Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Tübingen


All larger planets in the Solar System have natural satellites. Especially the ice and gas giants harbour together over 200 moons, and even less massive objects like dwarf planets are orbited by companions. From the Solar System one might deduce that moons are common objects in extrasolar systems around exoplanets. Several formation channels are diskussed:  the formation of moons by capture, the formation by giant impacts, and the formation of exomoons by agglomeration in a circumplanetary disk. Up to the present, over 2600 exoplanetary systems that contain over 4000 planets have been discovered.
The observations show that the most abundant planets are super-Earths (planets with 1-20 Earth masses) with orbital periods shorter than 100 days, followed by giant planets at distances of 1-3 astronomical units from their central star.  However, there is no confirmed detection of an exomoon until the present day, mostly due to the current generation telescope sensitivity which is almost sufficient to detect massive exomoons around massive exoplanets. In this proposal at hand, we intend to study the formation of exomoons by giant impacts on ice and gas giants.


Rafael Sfair

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