In our galaxy, but far, far away: A planet orbiting two stars at once.
If that sounds familiar, than you are a “Star Wars” fan: Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s desert homeworld in the first Star Wars movie (episode IV).
“This discovery provides confirmation of a new class of planetary systems that could harbor life. Given that most stars in our galaxy are part of a binary system, this means that the opportunities for life are much broader than if planets form only around single stars This milestone discovery confirms a theory that scientists have had for decades but could not be proven until now.”
If you could stand on the planet, Kepler 16b, you would see a “dynamic range of sunsets,” according to Laurance Doyle, a participating scientist on the Kepler team and lead author at the SETI Institute. Scroll down for video of the miraculous planet.
“Sometimes the red star would set first, other times the orange star would, sometimes they’d set at the same time,” Doyle continued at a NASA briefing on Thursday at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “To tell the time using a sundial you’d need calculus.”
-Kepler principal investigator William Borucki, NASA
NASA Discovers ‘Tatooine’
TPM, September 15, 2011