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article imageStar Wars-like planet orbiting two suns found by NASA's Kepler

By Kev Hedges     Sep 16, 2011 in Science
The US Space Agency are calling it the first confirmed alien world of its kind. Any similarities to the fictional planet Tatooine in Star Wars end, however; the agency says it's thought to be an uninhabitable cold gas giant, similar to Saturn or Neptune
Planets such as these - known as "circumbinary planets" - have always thought to have existed but had never been found, until now. The planet named Kepler-16b, will have an extraordinary double sunset at the end of each day. Both of Kepler-16b's suns are smaller than our own; one being just under three-quarters the size and the other sun one-fifth of our own sun.
A year or one complete orbit on Kepler-16b lasts 229 days, reports BBC Science. The Kepler telescope was launched in 2009 and its mission is to look for earth-like planets in our quarter of the Milky Way. It has found several such exoplanets so far and recently discovered a solar system similar to ours with six planets orbiting a star, the most compact planetary system yet discovered beyond our own solar system.
Although double-star systems are common in our Milky Way it has always been thought planets could not survive in their vicinity. It would seem now that George Lucas' concept of a planet with twin suns in the 1977 film Star Wars wasn’t too far-fetched after all, reports Slatest. The stars themselves orbit each other every 41 days this causes contrasting dips in illumination on the planet.
The find comes in a week when Kepler has found several new findings including 74 previously unknown exoplanets, including 16 around Earth-size or slightly larger.
More about Kepler, Tatooine, Star wars, Kepler16b
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