Part 3: In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Fact: There is a planet that orbits two suns rather than one. 

NASA discovered something that should bring all Star Wars fans a little hope: Kepler-16b, a planet in a solar system centred around two suns, rather than one. Who decided that was a better name than Tatooine?

The two stars at the centre of this system are called a ‘binary star’, and the smaller of the two orbits closely around the larger one, while the planet Kepler-16b orbits the two of them simultaneously (as shown in the picture above, although it can be hard to get your head around so here’s a gif).

Sadly, it seems that Kepler-16b is a gas giant, and so the chances of it actually being the desert home of the sand people is pretty unlikely. However, simulations have predicted that it might have an ‘earth-like’ moon orbiting it which could theoretically sustain life. So if hiking on flaming glaciers and swerving around diamond icebergs doesn’t do it for you, there is a chance that a trip into deep space could let you build your own lightsaber one day.

‘Another one of Mr Shaunak’s Little Bites of Science’
Image under Creative Commons license


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