press release seemingly from a science fiction movie, a recently discovered
planet about 200 light years from Earth reportedly orbits two different suns.
This is the first time researchers have
witnessed a planet with two stars, but researchers aren't surprised at this
The Kepler 16b planet has two suns that orbit one another in 35 days. If
a person visited Kepler 16b, they would be greeted by a sky that featured two
prominent stars -- and circles both stars in 229 days.
SETI researchers don't believe that life exists on Kepler 16b, but are anxious
to learn more about Kepler 16b. The planet itself likely is extremely
dense, and is close to the size of Saturn, researchers say.
Kepler 16b's larger sun is almost 70 percent the size as the Earth's sun, while
the smaller star is closer to 20 percent. The planet and its celestial
bodies are able to form a proper system because they are an appropriate
distance from one another, so there doesn't appear to be a risk of the planet
collapsing into one of its stars.
When Tatooine was first shown in Hollywood, there was immediate doubt as to
whether or not a similar planet would be found.
"It's possible that there's a real Tatooine out there," said John
Knoll, Industrial Lights and Magic visual effects supervisor, in a
statement. "Kepler 16b is unambiguous and dramatic proof that
planets really do form around binaries."
The findings were published in Science, and were made using the Kepler space
telescope. The Kepler program aims to continue searching for planets
similar to Earth that also orbit stars, along with studying how many stars have
bodies currently orbiting them.