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article imageScience confirms ‘Doctor Who-type world, Gallifrey’

By Mathew Wace Peck     Aug 30, 2012 in Science
NASA has confirmed the existence of a real-universe analogue of Gallifrey, the fictional Time Lord planet that features in the BBC science-fiction drama series, Doctor Who.
According to an article in the Register, NASA came across what it calls a “transiting circumbinary multi-planet system” – in layman’s speak, “two worlds orbiting two suns” – using its Kepler planet-hunting telescope, and the Register likens to “Doctor Who’s Time Lord homeworld [of] Gallifrey – or alternatively the luxury-planet-builders’ planet Magrathea [from] The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”!
The Register reports the lead author of the study, Jerome Orosz – associate professor of astronomy at San Diego State University – as saying, “Each planet transits over the primary star, giving unambiguous evidence that the planets are real.”
Digital Journal's Andrew Moran first reported on the discovery in January of this year, but the full study report has now been accepted by and published in Science.
The new system, which has been named Kepler 47, has two stars circling each other every 7.5 days. One of them is similar in size to our sun, whereas the other is approximately one third its size.
The inner planet – Kepler-47b – is three times the size of our world, making it the smallest known transiting circumbinary planet, and it orbits the stars every 49 days. The second – Kepler-47c – lies in the habitable zone around the two suns.
The Register goes on to state that Kepler-47c is “slightly larger than Uranus and circles its stars every 303 days, making it the longest transiting planet currently known. The whole system lies about 5,000 light years away in the Cygnus constellation”.
The full report of NASA's twin-system discovery is published in Science.
Fictional worlds
The fictional Time Lord planet of Gallifrey resides in a binary star system within the constellation of Kasterborous. Although Doctor Who began in 1963, the name of the Doctor’s home planet was not revealed until the Third Doctor named it in "The Time Warrior" in 1974.
Since then, exiled from his own people, the Doctor has returned to Gallifrey on only a few occasions – The Deadly Assassin (1976) The Invasion of Time (1978), Arc of Infinity (1983) and The Five Doctors (1983).
During the Time War, Gallifrey was time-locked and has only featured fully once since 2005, in David Tennant’s swansong as the Doctor, The End of Time (2010).
More about NASA, Doctor Who, Kepler 47, Kepler47b, Kepler47c
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