'Tatooine' gives first direct proof of 2-sun planet
This iconic "Star Wars" scene inspired the nickname "Tatooine" for a newly found 2-sun planet Kepler-16b.
September 15th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

'Tatooine' gives first direct proof of 2-sun planet

Luke Skywalker looks out over a desert dominated by two setting suns in an iconic scene from "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." But this isn’t just the stuff of fiction. Now, astronomers have confirmed the first direct evidence that planets with two suns do exist.

Scientists at NASA and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute [SETI] are informally calling the newly discovered world Tatooine, as homage to Skywalker's planet imagined by George Lucas.

The so-called circumbinary planet has been dubbed with an official name that's much less interesting: Kepler-16b.

Unlike the tagline of the Star Wars saga, Tatooine is not located in a "galaxy far, far away," it's right in our own backyard -- relatively -- about 200 light years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Getting to Tatooine aboard a spacecraft traveling at light speed -- 186,282 miles per second -- would take about two centuries. (The closest star to earth outside our solar system is about 4 light years away.)

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