Over three decades ago, George Lucas gave Star Wars to the world, and in that movie there was a planet called Tatooine that had two suns, which of course was just absurd and ridiculous science fiction at the time.
Now, just in time for the release of the movies on Blu–ray, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first real–life circumbinary planet, which means it orbits two stars.
You can read more below, as well as check out a video about the discovery.
The planet, being called Kepler–16b, was found 200 light–years from Earth in the Kepler–16 system. And though it does have two suns, that’s about where the similarities to Tatooine end. The planet is cold and gaseous and about the size of Saturn, with its stars about 60% and 20% the size of our own sun, respectively. The planet orbits its two suns every 229 days, and it’s not thought that any life would be found there…though it’s not completely out of the question—because the two suns are cooler than our own sun, water could possibly exist.
Kepler principal investigator William Borucki said of this exciting new layer to space exploration, “This discovery confirms 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 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 prove until now.”
This is just another incredible discovery of many that continue to prove just how big this universe is, and how much is possible out there.