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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. 

Nick Yee’s passion for music developed at an early age, as he collected jazz and rock records pulled from dusty locations while growing up in both Southern California and Honolulu. In college he started DJing around Honolulu, playing Jazz and Bossa Nova sets at various lounges and clubs under the name dj mr.nick. He started to incorporate Downtempo, House and Breaks into his sets as his popularity grew, eventually getting DJ residences at different Chinatown locations. To this day, he is a fixture in the Honolulu underground club scene, where his live sets are famous for being able to link musical and cultural boundaries, starting mellow and building the audience into a frenzy while steering free of mainstream clichés.
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