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From Star Wars to Science Fact – Tatooine Planet Discovered

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

Although cold and gaseous rather than a desert world, the newfound planet Kepler-16b is still the closest astronomers have come to discovering Luke Skywalker’s home world of Tatooine. Like Tatooine, Kepler-16b enjoys a double sunset as it circles a pair of stars approximately 200 light-years from Earth. It’s not thought to harbor life, but its discovery demonstrates the diversity of planets in our galaxy.

“Kepler-16b is the first confirmed, unambiguous example of a circumbinary planet — a planet orbiting not one, but two stars,” said Josh Carter of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). “Once again, we’re finding that our solar system is only one example of the variety of planetary systems Nature can create.”

Carter is second author on the study announcing the discovery, which appears in the Sept. 15th issue of the journal Science. He is presenting the finding today at the Extreme Solar Systems II conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Full Story: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2011/pr201125.html