In 1977, the blockbuster sci-fi movie Star Wars showed a spectacular scene: the lead character Luke Skywalker walks into a binary sunset in the planet Tatooine. Thirty-four years later, such a scene has become a reality. The only difference is that the planet is not called Tatooine but is officially called Kepler-16b.
Recently, a group of NASA’s astronomers reported their discovery of a two-sun planet by the planet-hunting aircraft Kepler. They informally called it Tatooine to remind people that what was dreamt up by George Lucas has finally become a reality. “This is a direct detection; it removes all doubt,” group leader Laurance Doyle said.
According to Nick Gautier, a scientist with NASA in the Kepler project, this is the first time that a circumbinary planet has been definitely detected.
Actually, there are billions of double-star systems in the galaxy and most stars in our galaxy are paired in binary systems, said William Borucki, the chief of the project Kepler.
Borucki believes that sighting of planets that orbit two stars means more opportunities for detecting life-form beyond our solar system.