American scientists have discovered a new planet that orbits around two suns.
It has been named Kepler-16b and is 200 light-years from Earth. Scientists believe it is a made of cold gas just like Saturn. This discovery followed a three year journey by the Kepler telescope, which was launched in 2009. It has been found that a day on the planet ends with a double sunset, and it orbits its two suns every 229 days at a distance of 65 million miles.
Coincidently, George Lucas? infamous Star Wars? hero Luke Skywalker was said to come from a planet with 2 suns known as Tatooine. However, unlike his home, this planet is reported to be uninhabitable.
Basically, the mission of the Kepler satellite is to find Earth-sized planets that are habitable and to discover how many stars within the Milky Way have such planets.
“This is really a stunning measurement by Kepler,? said Alan Boss, of the Carnegie Institution for Science near Washington DC and a co-author of the study. “The real exciting thing is there’s a planet sitting out there orbiting around these two stars.”
Though Kepler-16b is the first such “circumbinary” planet to be unambiguously detected, it won’t be the last, researchers said, in a press conference last week. “We know now that, with very good likelihood, systems like this are common throughout the galaxy and indeed throughout the universe,” said astronomer Greg Laughlin of the University of California.
Sources: The Sun, Space.com, NASA