Planets like 'Tatooine' Could Still Be Habitable

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An artists impression of an exoplanet
Astronomers find even if a planet orbits two stars, it could still harbour life (image credit: NASA).

The first exosolar planet (a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun) was discovered in 1995, and since then humans have found over 3600 planets outside of our solar system. Some of those found are orbiting not one star like we do, but two stars. For example, stars Kepler-35A and 35B orbit each other, but a planet Kepler-35b, orbits both of them. This is much more like the fantasy word Tatooine in the space epic Star Wars than our own planet Earth. In A New Hope, we see young Luke Skywalker watching two stars set on the horizon from his home on Tatooine. Scientists from Germany and California wondered if such system would actually be habitable. Using a model for the planet's atmosphere, they determined that at the right distance, a planet could harbour life around a double star system. That means, in our search for life, we shouldn't discount planets like Tatooine!

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Planets like 'Tatooine' Could Still Be Habitable
NASA
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

Jesse is a passionate scientist, educator, and science communicator. As an assistant professor at York University in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, he teaches three classes: History of Astronomy, Introduction to Astronomy, and Exploring the Solar System. He frequently collaborates with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and lends his expert voice to the Ingenium Channel. Jesse is an astrophysicist, and his research explores how super massive black holes evolve through time. Whether in the classroom, through social media, or on TV, he encourages conversations about how science and society intersect, and why science is relevant in our daily lives.