I can still vividly remember this image from Star Wars(r) episode 4 “A New Hope,”of Luke Skywalker staring longingly at the twin sunsets on Tatooine:
Science fiction gives way to science fact. NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered multiple transiting planets orbiting two suns for the first time. The system, known as a circumbinary planetary system, is 4,900 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus (the swan).
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.
“Unlike our sun, many stars are part of multiple-star systems where two or more stars orbit one another. The question always has been — do they have planets and planetary systems? This Kepler discovery proves that they do,” said William Borucki, Kepler mission principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “In our search for habitable planets, we have found more opportunities for life to exist.”
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