When you hear about a planet that orbits multiple suns, what do you immediately think of? Depending on what kind of sci-fi fan you are, most likely either the #StarWars franchise or Pitch Black. Both movies paint a fascinating picture of what a planet would look like with two or more suns scorching it all year long. That's one thing can be agreed on, whether you're into Sarlaccs or Bioraptors.
If your dream is to someday live on a real life Tatooine, it looks like you might be one step closer to realizing that dream. Thanks to, well...
And also, thanks to those awesome guys at NASA and their huge telescopes, namely the Kepler. The two suns, Kepler-35A and B, in the Kepler-35 system are situated 5365 light-years (or 1645 parsecs) away from our celestial home. Orbiting them is a huge, gassy planet named Kepler-35b (capitalization is important in space) that's roughly 72.8% the radius of Jupiter, or 8 times as big around as Earth.
This artist's concept shows a hypothetical planet covered in water around the binary star system of Kepler-35A and B:
Knowing this planet exists so close to the habitable zone around the suns, or where Earth-like planets could exist, it spurred NASA scientists to theorize whether or not an Earth-like planet could make it in a two-sun system. Referring to a study from Nature Communications:
It turns out, such a planet could be quite hospitable if located at the right distance from its two stars, and wouldn't necessarily even have deserts. In a particular range of distances from two sun-like host stars, a planet covered in water would remain habitable and retain its water for a long time.
Here's what Max Popp and Siegfried Eggl had to say about that, from NASA's exoplanet site:
This means that double-star systems of the type studied here are excellent candidates to host habitable planets, despite the large variations in the amount of starlight hypothetical planets in such a system would receive.
Popp is the associate research scholar at Princeton University, and Eggl is a scholar at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
They went on to say that the orbit would be a little wacky (not a direct quote), with the planet's orbit looking more wobbly than circular, thanks to the gravitational pull from both suns.
I don't know about you, but that's enough science for me. If you want to read the entire article, teleport on over here and give it a look. If you want to talk about how cool/hot it would be to live on a scorched Tatooine-like planet with two suns, head down to the comments and let me know what you think!
Or, just watch a full-on double sunset:
More Star Wars reading:
- Wait... They found a REAL LIFE Tatooine!? (When Star Wars Becomes Reality)
- The Intergalactic Warrior We Need: Harrison Ford Has Tangled With Members Of 8 Different Alien Species!
- Mark Hamill Gives A Funny Reason Why George Lucas Wouldn't Let A Certain On-Set 'Star Wars' Pic See The Light Of Day