For all of us still hoping to experience a Tatooinian sunset at some point in our lives, there may still be a chance. Not a good chance, hey, you might discover some method for viable interplanetary travel. And that’s what Luke would want, right? What would have happened if he had given up hope while staring into those blazing twin stars on Tatooine? No Star Wars movies, that’s what.
Scientists have just discovered Kepler-1647b, a planet outside our solar system that orbits two suns. CNN reports that the suns are similar to our own, suggesting they’re probably G-type stars like Tatooine’s two suns, Tatoo 1 and Tatoo 2. The exoplanet itself is roughly the same age as earth, too (4.4 billion years old, compared to Earth’s 4.54 billion), but the similarities stop there. Kepler-1647b is the size of Jupiter, making it the largest circumbinary planet yet found, and it shares our local giant’s gaseous properties.
I know, I know. Planets like Jupiter are uninhabitable, you say. Too much gas. How then can there be hope? Interestingly, Kepler-1647b, given the nature of its 1,107-day orbit and proximity to its stars, is in the habitable zone, meaning that there could be water pooling on its surface. (Bespine? Cloud City anyone?) This would only be possible if the exoplanet has large moons, though, which hasn’t been confirmed. Tatooine, for the record, has three moons: Ghomrassen, Guermessa and Chenini.
The Kepler mission, NASA’s space observatory project, has discovered 1,284 exoplanets since 2009, as well as several of the confirmed 11 circumbinary planets. And while only a handful of circumbinary planets have been found, scientists expect that millions more exist within our own galaxy. So even if this one turns out to be a dud (it’s 3,700 light years away, after all), we should have other opportunities to recreate Luke’s iconic “deep thoughts” scene. And I know that many of us would give most anything to do that… perhaps even travel to galaxies far, far away.
Featured image: Lucasfilm