Star Wars fans will recall that Luke Skywalker′s home world, Tatooine, was a planet with two suns. Well, NASA has discovered an exoplanet that orbits two stars, just like in the George Lucas movie. The Kepler space telescope, which has found dozens of exoplanets by measuring variations in a star′s light emissions, has located a planet now called Kepler-16b. A research team led by Laurance Doyle of the SETI Institute and Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institute for Science have determined that the newly discovered world, some 200 light years from our Sun, is probably uninhabited. The planet′s orbit appears to fall outside the range which would allow for liquid water to exist on it. John Knoll of Lucas′ Industrial Light and Magic is most impressed with the new discovery.

planet with two suns

A special effects supervisor for ILM, Knoll says ″Just about anything you can think of as a planetary system is actually out there.″ Knoll attended the press conference announcing the discovery of Kepler-16b. Now, many star systems are binary ones, containing two stars. Some scientists had speculated that the intense gravitational forces of a binary star system would make planet formation difficult. But once again, Nature proves that truth is stranger than fiction.

The planet with two suns found by the NASA Kepler space telescope is exciting. Just like Luke Skywalker′s home world of Tatooine in the George Lucas film, Star Wars, the exoplanet Kepler-16b orbits around two stars. Laurance Doyle of the SETI Institute and Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institute for Science have determined that Kepler-16b takes about 229 days to complete an orbit about the two suns. The wonders of the universe have even impressed John Knoll, a special effects supervisor with Industrial Light and Magic.