(Mirror Daily, United States) – A group of astronomers discovered a real version of Luke Skywalker’s home planet. The real life Tatooine is not a desert, as in the famous franchise, but a gas giant, orbiting two suns. Currently, it is the largest planet ever discovered.
The desert planet where R2-D2 and C3PO end up in the opening scenes of A New Hope was a rather small, rocky, and scorching planet that was orbiting two massive suns. The newly discovered Kepler-1647b is a gas giant bigger than Jupiter.
Apart from being the biggest planet to orbit two stars that was ever discovered, the real lie Tatooine also has the widest orbit ever to be measured. It takes approximately 1,107 days (Earth days) for the real life Tatooine to circle its two suns.
However, there is more about the planet than meets the eye. According to the calculations made by the astronomers, Kepler-1647b is located in its solar system’s habitable zone. This is the location that technically allows life to prosper due to the heat being bearable (by human standards) and the light touching the planet, thus making it possible for photosynthesis to happen.
The planet itself could not sustain life seeing as it is a gas giant, but if there is any natural satellite orbiting it, then than smaller celestial object could harbor alien life.
As the name suggests, the planet was discovered by the Kepler telescope that was launched by NASA in March 2009. The mission of the space telescope is to detect and analyze all of the Earth-like planets in the Milky Way.
The Kepler detection system works by noting the dips in brightness caused when a planet crosses the face of its host star (or stars in this case). The telescope needs to observe three such cycles before identifying an exoplanet. This means that worlds with bigger orbits take longer to find since they cross paths with their suns rarer than usual.
“It’s a bit curious that this biggest planet took so long to confirm since it is easier to find big planets than small ones. But it is because its orbital period is so long,” declared Jerome Orosz, one of the authors of the study.
Real life Tatooine is located at 3,700 light-years away, towards the Cygnus constellation.
Image source: Wikipedia