London, Sep. 13 (ANI): There are thousands of habitable moons orbiting planets in other solar systems trillions of miles from our own, British scientists say.
On the basis of mathematical calculations, scientists at the University College London have said that it should be possible to spot these moons using a space telescope launched by NASA.
Dr David Kipping from the department of physics and astronomy will tell a conference on the search for habitable planets that the first habitable moons could be spotted within the next five years, The Telegraph reports.
According to him, there are more than 12,500 stars within sight of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope which have possibility of having habitable moons orbiting around them.
Kipping's team has devised a new method for detecting moons in other solar systems - known as exomoons.
"For the first time, we have demonstrated that potentially-habitable moons up to hundreds of light years away may be detected with current instrumentation.
"As we ran the simulations, even we were surprised that moons as small as one-fifth of the Earth's mass could be spotted. "It seems probable that many thousands, possibly millions, of habitable exomoons exist in the Galaxy and now we can start to look for them," he said.
Around 370 exoplanets have now been discovered, but most are giant gas planets similar to Jupiter and unlikely to harbour life.
Earlier this year astronomers announced the discovery of an exoplanet known as Gliese 581 d, which is 20 light years away and eight times the size of the Earth, and is now seen as the best contender to be habitable. (ANI)