Astronomers discover Star Wars-like planet

Astronomers at San Diego State University have discovered a new exoplanet that orbits not one but two stars.
By Andrew Blake | Aug 12, 2015
Outside of our solar system lie a limitless number of stars and planets, orbiting and expiring without our knowledge. According to a report from Astronomy.com, astronomers from San Diego State University (SDSU) have discovered one such planet who closely resembles the fictional Star Wars planet "Tatooine".

Known as Kepler-453b this exoplanet, or planet outside our solar system, is know as a "transiting circumbinary" exoplanet, which means it orbits not only one, but two suns. This is similar to the fictional Star Wars planet "Tatooine", which has two suns in it's sky. Up until the discovery of the first transiting circumbinary exoplanet four years ago, they were thought to be incredibly rare or non-existent, but with the discovery of Kepler-453b as the tenth discovered in that time, astronomers now think they may be a common occurrence in our galaxy.

The discovery of Kepler-453b also has astronomers excited for a different reason. The exoplanet exists in a location relative to it's suns that is known as the "habitable zone", which means it is not too close to the suns to be too hot for habitation, but close enough to not be too cold. Of the ten known transiting circumbinary exoplanets, three exist in habitable zones- a surprisingly high percentage.

After pouring through data from NASA's Kepler mission, astronomers from SDSU were lucky to even catch a glimpse of Kepler-453b. Because the tilt of the exoplanet's orbit changes so rapidly, it's transits are only visibly 9% of the time. The low probability of discovering Kepler-453b leads astronomers to believe that for every one exoplanet within view, there could be 11 times more left unseen. With so much of the galaxy left unexplored, astronomers are thrilled to discover planets like Kepler-453b that have Earth-like conditions and could possibly support life.

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