New Star Wars Like Planets with 2 Suns Found

Astronomers have found more real-life versions of Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine from “Star Wars”, alien worlds that see two suns rise and set each day instead of one. According to scientists these two newfound worlds are also extremely close to the habitable zones of their parent stars. Astronomers used NASA’s Kepler space telescope to identify the two so-called “circumbinary planets” amid 750 systems they sampled. Their discovery brings the total number of confirmed double-sun worlds up to three. Both newfound twin-sun planets are low-density gas giants located around distant star pairs. The first, called Kepler-34 b, is about 22 percent of the mass of Jupiter and 76 percent the width of Jupiter. Kepler-34 b orbits two sunlike stars once every 289 days at about the same distance as Earth is from the sun. The planet is located about 4,900 light-years from Earth. The second planet, called Kepler-35 b, orbits two stars that are 5,400 light-years from Earth. It has about 13 percent the mass of Jupiter and is 73 percent as wide. It and orbits its parent stars, which are slightly smaller than the sun, once every 131 days from a distance about 60 percent that between Earth and our sun. The discovery may help astronomers estimate how many of such binary stars possess planets. The finding also suggests that many planets might lie in the habitable zones of such systems.