Scientists Named This Planet Tatooine Because It's So Similar To Luke Skywalker's Home

It has twin suns.

19/12/2016 12:00 GMT | Updated 13/04/2017 16:04 BST

Sometimes science is as strange as fiction.

In 2011, astronomers gazing out into the night sky identified a planet with twin suns, just like world Luke Skywalker grew up in. 

The resemblance was so striking that George Lucas endorsed the astronomers’ nickname for the newly discovered planet – Tatooine. 

Istvan Kadar Photography

Officially named Kepler-16b after the telescope which spotted it, the planet is only about 200 light years away from Earth. 

A visitor to Tatooine, located in the Cygnus constellation in the Milky Way, would have two shadows and spot two rainbows in a storm.

Each of Tatooine’s sunsets is unique, such is the varying position of the suns as they plunge beneath the horizon. 

Unfortunately, the planet is too cold and gaseous to harbour alien life.

But with as many as half of the planets in the Milky Way orbiting twin stars, astronomers think it’s likely that at least one of the planets is habitable. 

It’s not the only planet out there with a striking resemblance to the worlds visited in Star Wars. 

In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan Kenobi lands on Kamino, a world covered entirely by ocean.

While scientists haven’t yet confirmed the existence of ocean planets, there are two moons in our solar system which fit the bill.

Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus are both covered in vast frozen oceans and are some of the best candidates in our solar system for alien life.