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Tatooine Found! - Planet Orbiting Two Stars Discovered

  • Neill
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Hi all,

Exciting discovery by Kepler

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14940885
Linda: "All in all, this is one day Mittens the kitten won't soon forget."
Morbo: "Kittens give Morbo gas."
11 years 2 months ago #90595

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  • Neill
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"Tatooine" Planet discovered! In a scientific discovery that seems ripped from the pages of science fiction, astronomers have found a planet that orbits two suns, just like Tatooine in the movie "Star Wars." The Tatooine-like planet is called Kepler-16b and was discovered with NASA's Kepler space telescope. It is called a circumbinary planet, meaning it circles a binary star system.

The two 'parent' stars are a K-type Dwarf with a mass of about 69% of the Sun, and a Red Dwarf with a mass of about 30% of our Sun. They orbit each other with a period of 41 days, and the planet orbits them both with a period of 229 days.

The planet's orbit is stable, but it lies outside the habitable zone of the system.
(the following details are edited and adapted from "Space.com")
Project leader Laurance Doyle, an astrophysicist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif., said: "It's a completely different kind of planetary system. About half the stars in our galaxy reside in double systems, and about one in 70 are eclipsing binaries. Now that we know how to find circumbinary planets, I think in the next month or so we're going to find a few more. We know what they look like and we know the tricks they play.
Binary stars may just as easily have planets as single stars. There are disks that people think precede the formation of planets. And 'Kepler' found just as many disks around double stars as they had around singles. Some people thought that the two stars would dissipate the disk before planets could form. Others said, no, when you mix up the disk it actually starts to accrete, and you get planets forming even faster. But now we know that planets can form in such a system.
I see no reason why you can't find a habitable system around two stars. This system is stable so I don't see why others couldn't be. But speculating on what their biological cycles would be as a consequence, that'd be a fascinating study.
Nighttime would be odd. It would sometimes be a very short nighttime when the stars are far away from each other, then when they drew close you'd have a longer nighttime. See: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-16b.html, and science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at...11/15sep_doublesuns/

The above borrowed from Terry Moseley's regular email
Linda: "All in all, this is one day Mittens the kitten won't soon forget."
Morbo: "Kittens give Morbo gas."
11 years 2 months ago #90596

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:gramps: I hear Anglo have given out loans to developers to buy property on it. :woohoo:
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11 years 2 months ago #90599

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:gramps: I hear Anglo have given out loans to developers to buy property on it. :woohoo:

just imagine the repayment period going round 2 stars ;).
11 years 2 months ago #90600

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