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NASA: New Giant Tatooine Planet With Two Suns Could Possibly Have Habitable Moons

Jun 14, 2016 08:24 PM EDT
Binary Star System
Our sun, like other stars in the universe was born in multi-star system and most likely lost its twin along the way.
(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle via Getty Images)

Scientists have recently discovered a large planet that has two binary suns. Tagged as Kepler-1647b, the said planet is akin to Jupiter while its moons are interesting habitable zones for alien life.

According to the study conducted by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and San Diego State University, Kepler-1647b is the largest and longest-period Kepler transiting circumbinary planet (CBP). Tatooine planets, named after Luke Skywalker's desert homeland in "Star Wars," are actually very hard to find and identify.

"Finding circumbinary planets is much harder than finding planets around single stars. The transits are not regularly spaced in time and they can vary in duration and even depth," said William Welsh, co-author of the study.

Phys.Org notes that researchers used NASA's Kepler telescope to find Kepler-1647b. They then determine if it fits the characteristics of a planet by using advanced computer programs. In the case of Kepler-1647b, Laurance Doyle, co-author of the study, has already observed the transit of the said planet in 2011. However, more data is needed to know if the said Jupiter-like world could be categorized as a circumbinary planet. The delay is in part due to its rather long orbit that takes 11 years to complete.

Located in the Cygnus constellation 3,700 light-years from Earth, Kepler-1647b is approximately 4.4 billion years old and is 11 times bigger than our planet. Scientists said that the rare circumbinary planet actually sits in a habitable zone, where it receives the right amount of heat to create liquid water form. However, the planet is entirely made of gas but its moons could possibly have life-like formations similar to Earth.

"Habitability aside, Kepler-1647 b is important because it is the tip of the iceberg of a theoretically predicted population of large, long-period circumbinary planets," Welsh explained.

To learn more about the newly discovered planet, check out the video below.

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