Nasa's Kepler Mission Discovers New 'Tatooine' Double-Star Planet Systems That Could Support Alien Life
Two new planet systems, each with with two suns – much like the fictitious Tatooine portrayed in Star Wars, have been discovered.
Nasa announced the existence of circumbinary planets Kepler-34 and Kepler-35 today at the 219th meeting of the American Astronoical Society in Texas.
William Welsh of San Diego State University said: “This work further establishes that such ‘two sun’ planets are not rare exceptions, but may in fact be common, with many millions existing in our galaxy.”
And many of the double-star planet systems could be prime hunting ground for alien life.
Professor Welsh, who led the study, explained: “This discovery broadens the hunting ground for systems that could support life.”
The planets, are both gaseous, Saturn-sized planets, with Kepler-34b orbiting its two sun-like stars every 289 days and the stars orbiting one another every 28 days.
Kepler-35b orbits its smaller, cooler host stars every 131 days, while they orbit each other every 21 days.
The Kepler telescope detects planets by measuring dips in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets crossing in front, or transiting their stars. At least three transits are required to verify a signal as a planet.
Earlier today it was revealed the Kelper mission had discovered the three smallest planets yet orbiting a single red dwarf star beyond the sun.