Archive for September 16th, 2011
A planet orbiting two suns – the first confirmed alien world of its kind – has been found by Nasa’s Kepler telescope, the US space agency announced.
It may resemble the planet Tatooine from the film Star Wars, but scientists say Luke Skywalker, or anyone at all, is unlikely to be living there.
Named Kepler-16b, it is thought to be an uninhabitable cold gas giant, like Saturn.
The newly detected body lies some 200 light years from Earth.
Though there have been hints in the past that planets circling double stars might exist, scientists say this is the first confirmation.
It means when the day ends on Kepler-16b, there is a double sunset, they say.
Kepler-16b’s two suns are smaller than ours – at 69% and 20% of the mass of our sun – making the surface temperature an estimated -100 to -150F (-73 to -101C).
The planet orbits its two suns every 229 days at a distance of 65m miles (104m km) – about the same solar orbit as Venus.
The Kepler telescope, launched in 2009, is designed to scour our section of the Milky Way galaxy for Earth-like planets.