A planet with two suns? NASA has just discovered a new planet similar to Tatooine, the fictional planet in “Star Wars.” The new planet, called Kepler 16b, orbits two stars at a distance of about 65 million miles.
The New York Times reports that one star burns orange while the other burns yellow, and that they do not always rise and set in the same order.
Alan P. Boss of the Carnegie Institution, said:
“Reality has finally caught up with science fiction.”
The planet, which was discovered by NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft, was announced on Thursday in a paper published online in the journal Science.
Here’s a look at this bizarre new planet.
NASA says that this is the first planet ever discovered to definitively have two suns. Planets were believed to have two suns in the past, but Kepler 16b is the first to have twin suns officially confirmed.
Alan Boss, one of the researchers who made the discovery, told FoxNews.com:
“This is the first definitive case. People in the past have thought they saw instances like this. But there are other ways of explaining them. This is the first one where it’s absolutely, quantitatively sure that this is what the explanation is.”
Kepler 16b, which has already earned the unofficial name of Tatooine, is undoubtedly cool to look at, but scientists say that the new planet is much more than just a cool sight. Kepler 16b debunks a theory about how stars are formed. Scientists previously believed that in order for a planet to orbit two stars, it would have to be seven times as far from the stars as the stars were from each other. Kepler 16b orbits its suns at a much closer range than previously thought possible.
Sara Seager, a planetary expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said:
“People don’t really know how to form this planet. This planet broke the rule.”
Here’s a look at Tatooine from “Star Wars.”
Do you think George Lucas will sue Kepler 16b for copyright infringement?