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Kepler-47: Solar system found with 'Tatooine'-like twin suns

NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Sharing the Light of Two Suns: This artist's concept illustrates Kepler-47, the first transiting circumbinary system -- multiple planets orbiting two suns – 4,900 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus. The system was detected by NASA's Kepler space telescope, which measures minisucule changes in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets that pass in front of or 'transit' their host star.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

This diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-47, a double-star system containing two planets, one orbiting in the so-called "habitable zone." This is the sweet spot in a planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

The two planets of Kepler-47, the first transiting circumbinary system -- a system with more than one planet orbiting a pair of stars. Kepler-47b, on the right, has three times the radius of earth and orbits the pair of stars in less than 50 days while Kepler-47c is thought to be a gaseous giant, slightly larger than Neptune with an orbital period of 303 days.

kepler 47

Screenshot via SPACE.com


SPACE.com reports that for the first time astronomers have discovered two alien planets puttering around two stars, likening the twin-suns-solar-system-scenario to Luke Skywalker's home turf of Tatooine in Star Wars. Double nerd alert.

NASA made the announcement Tuesday of "Kepler-47" -- a circumbinary planetary system located 4,900 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. 

This discovery proves that more than one planet can form and persist in the stressful realm of a binary star and demonstrates the diversity of planetary systems in our galaxy. 


Astronomers detected two planets in the Kepler-47 system, a pair of orbiting stars that eclipse each other every 7.5 days from our vantage point on Earth. One star is similar to the sun in size, but only 84 percent as bright. The second star is diminutive, measuring only one-third the size of the sun and less than 1 percent as bright. 

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