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Scientists Discover a Large Planet Orbiting Two Suns

Lynette Cook
Lynette Cook
UH Institute for Astronomy
Credit UH Institute for Astronomy
The orbit of Kepler-1647b (white dot) around its two suns (red and yellow circles).

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you may recall a scene where Luke Skywalker looks out onto a double sunset on the planet of Tatooine.  But for scientists working with UH’s Institute for Astronomy… that vision is now a reality.

With help from images from the Kepler spacecraft the team has discovered the 10th and largest planet with two suns.  They named it Kepler 1647B, and it’s about the size of Jupiter with an orbit of three years, the longest of any transiting planet.  It sits 37,000 light years from Earth and is estimated to be around the same age.

The discovery supports the theory that circumbinary solar systems can exist in large sizes as well as in potentially habitable areas.  Nader Haghighipour is an astronomer with UH’s Institute for Astronomy. 

The team will be using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite to take another look at the discovery.

A hypothetical binary star system with 13 circumbinary planets

And just for fun... a little Star Wars. 

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