Friday, September 16, 2011

Home » » Double-sun "Star Wars" planet discovered

Double-sun "Star Wars" planet discovered


It is a real-life Tatooine. A spectacle created preferred from the "Star Wars" saga -- a planet with two suns -- has been confirmed in space for the first time, astronomers revealed.

Scientists making use of NASA's Kepler space telescope captured details of a giant planet in orbit around the pair of binary stars that comprise the Kepler-16 system, which is about 200 light-years away.

"This discovery is stunning," said study co-author Alan Boss in the Carnegie Institute in Washington. "Once once more, what utilised being sci-fi has changed into reality."

Cosmic Diary about Kepler-16

The planet, dubbed Kepler-16(AB)-b, passes when in front of both stars in view of the satellite, regularly dimming their light. Every star also eclipses its companion since they orbit one another. Altogether, these motions permit scientists to precisely calculate the masses, radii and trajectories of most 3 bodies. [See a graphic and video of Tatooine planet Kepler 16b]

The newfound planet keeps a distance from the stars nearly three-quarters those of the distance in between the Earth plus the sun. It's somewhat like Saturn in size, while practically 1 / 2 denser, suggesting it is richer in heavy elements.

"Kepler-16(AB)-b just isn't habitable as we know it," said study lead author Laurance Doyle , an astrophysicist in the Find Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

This alien globe travels for a nearly circular 229-day orbit about its two parent stars, Kepler-16A and Kepler-16B, which are about 69 and 20 percent as massive since the sun, respectively. The stars maintain close to one another -- just a fifth in the distance among Earth plus the sun on average, and that is closer than Mercury gets to the sun -- completing an orbit about each other each and every 41 days, researchers added.

Worlds that orbit around two stars, called circumbinary planets, ended up being hinted at prior to. Stars in pairs each orbit around a spot in space called barycenter, and researchers at times saw these orbits were slightly off, suggesting the inclusion of a planet tugging at each stars. Even so, Kepler-16(AB)-b is the initially planet that scientists have detected directly passing when in front of, or transiting, its stars, temporarily dimming their light.

Because the movements of this world and its two stars are typically practically confined towards the exact same plane, the study suggest each will formed from the same disk of dust and gas. Planets that were captured using their company star systems may be expected to orbit at the array of angles.

"Now that we understand the way to detect circumbinary planets, I feel we're going to obtain a whole lot more rapidly," Doyle told

The scientists detailed their findings within the Sept. 16 concern of your journal Science.
Share this article :

Post a Comment