The hunt for exomoons with kepler (HEK). III. the first search for an exomoon around a habitable-zone planet

D. M. Kipping, D. Forgan, J. Hartman, D. Nesvorný, G. Á Bakos, A. Schmitt, L. Buchhave

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61 Scopus citations


Kepler-22b is the first transiting planet to have been detected in the habitable zone of its host star. At 2.4 R , Kepler-22b is too large to be considered an Earth analog, but should the planet host a moon large enough to maintain an atmosphere, then the Kepler-22 system may yet possess a telluric world. Aside from being within the habitable zone, the target is attractive due to the availability of previously measured precise radial velocities and low intrinsic photometric noise, which has also enabled asteroseismology studies of the star. For these reasons, Kepler-22b was selected as a target-of-opportunity by the "Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler" (HEK) project. In this work, we conduct a photodynamical search for an exomoon around Kepler-22b leveraging the transits, radial velocities, and asteroseismology plus several new tools developed by the HEK project to improve exomoon searches. We find no evidence for an exomoon around the planet and exclude moons of mass MOS > 0.5 MO ⊕ to 95% confidence. By signal injection and blind retrieval, we demonstrate that an Earth-like moon is easily detected for this planet even when the time-correlated noise of the data set is taken into account. We provide updated parameters for the planet Kepler-22b, including a revised mass of MO P < 53 MO ⊕ to 95% confidence and an eccentricity of by exploiting Single-body Asterodensity Profiling. Finally, we show that Kepler-22b has a >95% probability of being within the empirical habitable zone but a <5% probability of being within the conservative habitable zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • planetary systems
  • stars: individual (Kepler-22, KOI-87, KIC 10593626)
  • techniques: photometric


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