Exoplanets & Exomoons

The “Drake equation” Of Exomoons — A Cascade Of Formation, Stability And Detection

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
November 10, 2023
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The “Drake equation” Of Exomoons — A Cascade Of Formation, Stability And Detection
Artist’s depiction of a large exoplanet with an exomoon — NASA

After 25 years of the prediction of the possibility of observations, and despite the many hundred of well studied transiting exoplanet systems, we are still waiting for the announcement of the first confirmed exomoon.

Following the “cascade” structure of the Drake-equation, but applied to the existence of an observable exomoon instead the original scope of extraterrestrial intelligence. The scope of this paper is to reveal the structure of the problem, rather than giving a quantitative solution.

We identify three important steps that can lead us to the discovery. The steps are the formation, the orbital dynamics and long-term stability, and the observability of a given exomoon in a given system. This way, the question will be closely related to questions of star formation, planet formation, 5 possible pathways of moon formation; long-term dynamics of evolved planet systems involving stellar and planetary rotation and internal structure; and the proper evaluation of the observed data, taken the correlated noise of stellar and instrumental origin and the sampling function also into account.

This way, a successful exomoon observation and the interpretations of the expectable further measurements proves to be among the most complex and most interdisciplinary questions in astrophysics.

Gy. M. Szabó, J. Schneider, Z. Dencs, Sz. Kálmán

Comments: 21 pages, 5 figures, submitted to Special Issue of Universe: The Royal Road: Eclipsing Binaries and Transiting Exoplanets
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2311.05390 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2311.05390v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Szilárd Kálmán
[v1] Thu, 9 Nov 2023 14:17:57 UTC (8,107 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻