NASA Discovers a Tatooine-like Planet Orbiting Two Stars

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An artist's rendition of the newly discovered planet. [Image: NASA]
NASA’s Kepler satellite has discovered a planet that orbits around two suns, which just so happen to be a yellow sun and red dwarf star, that is 200-light-years away from Earth—which some might say is in galaxy far away. Where have we seen this before? Hrmmm...

It’s Tatooine! Fire up the opening crawl and the deep exploration rockets, we’re going to find us some droids, land speeders, and possibly a light saber!

Star Wars nerd overload aside, this discovery is the first ever for a "circumbinary" planet, or a system where one star rotates around the other like a planet would. A system with two stars thus far has only been theoretically possible.

The planet, named, Kepler-16b is roughly the size of Saturn (which is about 763 times the size of Earth), and it completes its orbit around the suns once every 229 days. Unfortunately, the planet is so far from its suns that it can’t sustain life and it is too cold for liquid water to even exist. So this is definitely not the desert planet with moisture farms we are looking for.

However, the NASA scientists say that the two stars create particularly interesting effects. The planet most likely sees dramatic changes in lighting when the smaller star is eclipsed or when both stars are in view. The two large stellar bodies could also be affecting the shape of the planet with extreme gravitational tides.


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