Exciting news from the Kepler mission announced at 1800 UTC/GMT + 1 today.
The existence of a world with two suns like Tatooine, as seen in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, is now scientific fact.
NASA’s Kepler mission has made the first real detection of a circumbinary planet (a planet orbiting two stars) located 200 light-years from Earth.
The planet, called Kepler-16b, is not thought to be habitable. It is thought to be a cold world, with a gaseous surface. So what’s all the fuss about?
“This discovery confirms a new class of planetary systems that could harbor life,” Kepler principal investigator William Borucki said. “Given that most stars in our galaxy are part of a binary system, this means the opportunities for life are much broader than if planets form only around single stars. This milestone discovery confirms a theory that scientists have had for decades but could not prove until now.”
Although Kepler-16b lies outside the system’s habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface at least we now know how to detect circumbinary planets and maybe we’ll find more, one like Tatooine that can actually harbor life?
Read the full media release from NASA here.