'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.)

Using data from NASA's $600 million Kepler telescope now orbiting the sun, a team lead by SETI's Laurance Doyle detected the actual shadow of a planet as it crossed in front of its two suns - a scientific first. Before this discovery, astronomers could only infer that planets could circle two suns by looking at how the timing of the eclipses of those stars changed. 

If the eclipses had happened at different times than expected, that would indicate that the stars may have a planet. But many other factors besides planets can cause such behavior, "so we really needed to see" the planet's shadow crossing in front of the stars to identify it without a doubt as a circumbinary, Doyle said.

"When we first discovered it … I sent around a message, 'Hey, you know guys, we should ask George Lucas if we can nickname this guy Tatooine,'" said Doyle, a former protegé of famed astrophysicist Carl Sagan. "Suddenly and unexpectedly after years of looking for a circumbinary planet – we got a beauty."

The discovery opens up a whole new world of questions about the formation of planets, double-star systems and the way they work together.

A double sunset on the real Tatooine, Doyle said, would surpass even Lucas' imagination. For someone standing on the planet's surface, one of the suns would appear orange and the other red.

The suns also change positions and movement in relationship to each other. This means sunsets on Tatooine are like snowflakes: No two are ever the same. "Sometimes the red star would go down first, sometimes the orange star," said Doyle. "Sometimes they would be far apart, sometimes they would be eclipsed. So it's a really interesting sunset."

Inside the rooms of SETI and NASA, the word's been spreading fast. "Everybody's already referring to it in informal meetings," said Doyle. "'So, how's Tatooine going?' or referring to 'Tatooine's orbital period,' or whatever."

The idea that something that was science fiction in 1977 has been found in the real universe in 2011 could, Doyle hopes, inspire future scientists and astronauts.

But future space travelers may be disappointed to learn the real Tatooine probably isn't home to Skywalker or any other life form. Doyle is highly doubtful that the planet could support life as we know it due to its size and distance from its suns.

Here are a few other details about the planet nicknamed "Tatooine."

  • The planet could contain water in some form.
  • It's possible the planet could have one or more moons. Doyle continues to search.
  • Kepler-16b will be visible to amateur astronomers in June 2012.
  • Kepler-16b is the best-measured planet outside our solar system.
  • Its two suns go around each other every 41 days.
  • The planet has two eclipses each month.
  • Kepler-16b's "year" - the time it takes to go around its double suns - is 229 days.
  • It's believed that double-star systems outnumber single-star systems.
  • Doyle expects to find more circumbinary planets in the next month or two.

Kepler-16's mysteries began to reveal themselves in March of this year, when Doyle and SETI colleague Bob Slawson found the first clues while working at SETI facilities in Mountain View, California. Further investigation showed the system contained two small stars and later, a planet circling the stars. 

"It was really quite a team effort," said Doyle. "Dan Fabrycky, at University of California, Santa Cruz, did gravitational confirmation calculations.” I asked him, 'So, what did you get?' He said, '99.99%, it's a planet.'" Then after a few additional confirmations from other team members including Harvard-based Josh Carter, "we were like, that's it guys. We nailed it. That's the moment we nailed it."

The discovery reminds Doyle of the work he did with Sagan at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1970s and ’80s, analyzing data from the Voyager 1 and 2 probes to Jupiter and Saturn. Sagan took Doyle under his wing, encouraging him to pursue his doctoral dissertation based on Voyager's data about Saturn's mysterious rings.

Sagan, who died in 1996, would have celebrated this new discovery, Doyle suspects. "Being Carl, I think he might have used the term 'elegant.' A whole new kind of anything (in this case a planetary system) is what Carl just loved."

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Filed under: Eclipse • In Space • News
soundoff (670 Responses)
  1. TexanSwagger86

    palmer k is a dumb s&%^. Funny how much theists twists their own beliefs to fit science. Give it up man!

    September 16, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  2. Babu Ramaraj

    Lucky planet, it has 2 sons (suns) :)...

    September 16, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  3. TexanSwagger86

    I can't stand the b!*$&ing about the cost of the telescope. 'We should be using that money to feed the hungry!' some say. What da F*@$! Anyone who knows anything about ecology knows that populations (yes even human) will balance themselves out. In other words if you try to feed all the hungry you will only increase the amount of the hungry.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  4. Colin

    george lucas must have peed himself when this was announced. and soooo close to the blu ray release of the complete set too...

    September 16, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  5. hopnpop

    What if a colony of gorgeous, blonde Doublemint Twins were the only inhabitants? Gum chomping chicks? Beam me up Scotty! Oops wrong movie...

    September 16, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  6. JC

    @Yet another news reader : Yes, all masses in a solar system have some degree of effect on one another, but the planet in this most certainly cannot influence the stars path so that the star orbits it, unless it is one incredibly dense planet. I stand corrected.

    I do believe that what gives a planet away is that it causes a slight wobble in a stars rotation, which observers from earth can err, observe.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  7. Mark L.

    This is about as cool (or maybe as hot) as it gets...{:o)

    September 16, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  8. JC

    @J Tatooine had two suns, ergo the musical score "Binary sunset", quite a poignant and beautiful piece of music.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • J

      Thanks JC!

      September 16, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  9. NW1000

    Holy Crap they found Tatooine.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • gh

      NO WAI

      September 16, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  10. J

    I was certain that Luke Skywalker's Tatooine had two moons, not suns – sorry if someone mentioned this already. Regardless, it is an amazing find.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:09 am |
    • joeNYC

      You're mixing up tatooine and arrakis. Tattoine had 2 suns... arrakis had 2 moons.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  11. Pitch Black

    Better Much dare you bring your racist comments here, there are smart people and ignorant people everywhere just as there are cult ranches filled pple in the US who have dozens of offspring and wear uniformed clothing who one might view as ignorant or uncivilised there are also individuals everywhere who's ideas and beliefs stand to be questioned. leave Africans alone, how dare you???

    September 16, 2011 at 7:05 am |
  12. John

    I have to laugh. A good deal of people don't realize that all the sudden astronomy news being promoted to the media has a great deal to do retaining funding. The shuttle program is over and you have all of these people who need a job and there must be justification to support it. Congress is eyeing NASA for some extremely serious budget cuts because they want the money for other endeavors. I'm glad that we're peering through telescopes at all the wonders of the universe, but NASA's going to have to take a hit in this economy. I'm not interested in paying for all the shuttle workers to be converted into astronomers on my tax dollar.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:05 am |
  13. palmer k

    "more proof God doesnt exist"? to talk against my god u shud at least kno what the bible says. bc it clearly says his kingdom (aka the universe) is ever-expanding

    September 16, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • JC

      The Bible has expansion mentioned in its pages... amazing.

      September 16, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • rich

      Using the bible to prove your god exists, is circular reasoning. If I show you a book that says I am Mary Queen of Scots, would you curtsy?

      September 16, 2011 at 8:36 am |
      • Sharon

        @Rich – yes, then I'd have to execute you. Because my book says I'm Elizabeth I.

        September 16, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  14. solseeker

    Exciting discovery!Love the nickname as well.
    This is for elandau: It would be easier to reas the posts if there were a space line between the last post and the name for the next post, and no space line between the date and time line and the beginning of the entry.Thanks for your consideration!

    September 16, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  15. tim

    is this story made for monkeys, not to panic ,......when they will see same from Earth by 2013 ???

    September 16, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  16. nimbus

    im sure if there is intellegent life close by. close by galactic terms. these E.Ts' if they are space ferrying, know exactly what we are up to. although we have acheived so much in the last 100 years and most scientists would be excellent ambassadors for first contact. truth is we are not evolved enough mentally. we are to paranoid and militaristic. our best bet is if they choose to come to us. we have theories for space travel, unfortunately because of politics and budgets these are unrealistic wet dreams. i do applaud the science community for being diligent in their efforts and progress. i really hope in my life time we do make contact.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  17. JoAnn Bartholomew

    This,is AWESOME.Just,the PROOF,people need to wake them up.How,GOD DOES EXIST. JoAnn Bartholomew

    September 16, 2011 at 6:42 am |
  18. ryan


    September 16, 2011 at 6:35 am |
  19. Richard

    All we need to do is figure out how to warp the fabric of space and then we'd be able to get there almost instantaneously. Whatever it is that causes gravity is contained in the fabric of space, and the motion of the Earth increases it. It seems that contained in the fabric of space are waves that pass through all matter. As the earth attracts these waves, a force is created that keeps all matter from falling off of the Earth. This force becomes more condensed on earth than in space as what is attracting it is at the core, thereby causing more pressure the deeper toward the core we go. The more dense the object, the heavier it is due to the waves experiencing more resistance passing through the object. Objects fall at the same speed here on earth, but in space objects can travel faster. Light travels at 186,282 mps..so what is keeping it at this speed? There must be the same waves in space that is contained in the fabric of space that keeps lights traveling at that speed. Whatever is at the core of our planet is attracting these particles/waveform. If we could identify these particles/waveform, then we could cloak and object so that the particles move around our object enabling us to send an object at unlimited speed outside the laws of physics as we know it now. Much like putting your hand in water..it'll get wet as it passing through the water, but place a glove on the hand, and now your hand passes through the water without getting wet or being affected by it. Water being the space fabric, and your hand being the space craft..find a way to cloak it from the fabric of space, and the laws of gravity will not affect it. We don't need anti gravity..we need a cloak to bend the waveform that passes through all matter and causes a force of resistance.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:29 am |
    • Jeremy

      Yeah, what he said... Seriously though, sounded good to me.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  20. Aaron

    Isn't it more like the two suns have a planet? I mean, it's revolving around their gravity...they have it, it doesn't have them. Just say'n.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:26 am |
    • Yet another news reader

      Actually, they revolve around each other. The stars are also moved to go around the planet. Detecting the motion the planet imparts on the stars is one of the ways they confirm these discoveries.

      September 16, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  21. JC

    @Sophia1kindly take your sophism elsewhere. We are dealing in facts here.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:06 am |
  22. jems

    Mayans must have sent spacecraft to that planet 400 yrs ago to collect information. craft is on the way back to planet earth with some mayans astronaut . next Hollywood movie. james cameron my acc no *********** lol

    September 16, 2011 at 6:05 am |
  23. The_Mick

    Since double suns -in orbit around each other- is nearly as common as single suns, some might think it logical that planets would occur in such systems. However, just as Jupiter's (approaching a second Sun's size in our system) size prevented a planet from forming between it and Mars – we have instead the Asteroid Belt of small objects that never managed to coalesce together – it was considered possible the two Suns might prevent an ordinary solar system from forming in multiple star (sun) systems. So this discovery is proof they can exist.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:01 am |
  24. AD

    Two suns implies, that whatever race lives there, it has two hearts.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:56 am |
  25. Gaddffly

    Actually it is two suns that have one or more planets orbiting around them. Planets don't come with suns, suns have planets and the planets have moons orbiting around them. This is a really bassackward written article.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:48 am |
  26. Big R

    Back to my comment above! It didn't take 200 years for the images of Tattoonie to reach the naked eye through the instrument in Which it was dicovered, so why would it take that long to travel there? We need to stop following and start leading! Starting with questions! Don't be sheep, be a shepard! I'm the man! By the way!

    September 16, 2011 at 5:48 am |
    • Yet another news reader

      Umm, actually it did take 200 years for the images to reach Kepler. The stars are 200 light years away.

      September 16, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • Dennis

      Sit down before you hurt yourself.

      September 16, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • joeNYC

      Hey Big R. If you can somehow figure out how to get us there faster, I can personally guarantee that you be very rich and famous, and will even make it into the history books.

      Until then, get a clue and read a little.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  27. sophia1

    may god have mercy on all of u non believers.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • Dennis

      Tatooine has two gods riding a chariot of fire across the sky.

      Does that beat our one Apollo or was that a silly superstitious mythology?

      September 16, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  28. JC

    So at 98% the speed of light they'll only get 1 out of every 5 errr, time updates? Refreshes? So time propagates at the speed of light then? Interesting. 200 years outside, 40 in transit. Could you communicate with or receive news from Earth during the trip? I understand the wavelength of the information would be stretched but wouldn't a computer be able to reconstitute it. Even if it's only one way "Twitter" updates.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:37 am |
    • JC

      @Steve above was meant for you sorry.

      September 16, 2011 at 5:38 am |
      • Steve

        @JC Yes, 2-way communication would still work. There would only need to be modifications to the receiving equipment to deal with the Doppler shift of the frequencies. Keep in mind though – at the end of the trip Earth would have experienced about 204 years (200/0.98c) so the last communication that could meet the spacecraft as it arrives would have to be sent about 4 years after launch. Also, relativity doesn't care which observer is moving, so messages from the spacecraft in the first 4 are al that would reach Earth during the 200LY trip. (Note that there are subtle time-paradoxes having to do with acceleration that make all this work in a consistent way. I.e. what makes the spacecraft and Earth different is that the spacecraft accelerated leaving Earth and will decelerate when it gets to the 200LY point.)

        September 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  29. JC

    Maybe they used stock footage from some other science show? Re the "wrong" spectra of the stars. (if that is the right word for it)

    September 16, 2011 at 5:34 am |
  30. Big R

    Well let's get back to common sence. If we can use an instument to view the planets/star then wouldn't be safe to say that we could use a the same instrument to travel? I'm no scientist but don't particles travel in beams of light? Why couldn't we use this same method to transport something else? Particles have mass, as does everything else! I'm just saying! I'm a gienus!

    September 16, 2011 at 5:30 am |
    • joeNYC

      About as much as you can use your camera to travel across your living room.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Jerry M

      The telescope magnifies the image, it doesn't bring the light from that object to us any faster. It's about 1172 trillion miles away and, because light travels at around 5.86 trillion miles a year, we are seeing it as it was 200 years ago.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  31. Pete Henderson

    Noe to the artist: Your illustrations look wrong to me. The small sun is a white dwarf, right? This would make its color on the blue side. I suppose the big sun a red giant. Don't you have the colors backwards?

    September 16, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • Pete Henderson

      Duh. Some day I'll learn to write good English more better. I meant NOTE to the artist, not noe Also, I suppose it IS a red giant. I'll never get a job as a proofreader!

      September 16, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  32. majidfafa

    wow . lets go... i want to go the between 2 sun

    September 16, 2011 at 4:39 am |
  33. abdirizack

    i think this is going to be interesting but where will the fact that all planet revole around the one and the only sun in the universe be thrown

    September 16, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  34. jimmy

    God is real and thru His son Jesus, we all got saved.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Saved from what? You must have been absent from history class, when it covered the last 2000 years of pain, death and suffering after your Jesus' suppossed death.

      September 16, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  35. Jason

    I think we should drop off the Israelis and the Palestinians on Tatooine just see if they still have something to fight about

    September 16, 2011 at 4:03 am |
  36. wowgold

    It's just amazing! Two suns, two sunrise, two sunset! And no two are ever the same. This is interesting!

    SwagVault team have produced a series of WOW TCG LOOT VIDEOS . If you have an interest in those videos, serch SwagVault in YouTube or Google SwagVault. And FREE WOW ITEMS still give away!

    September 16, 2011 at 3:48 am |
  37. Kenny

    The day I die is the day my soul will travel in "speed of light" and it will take me to all the so-called planets in far away galaxies and throughout the infinities of space, but as long as I am alive today and the many days ahead of me, I will enjoy every bit of it on this beautiful home/world of mine called EARTH!

    September 16, 2011 at 3:47 am |
  38. BrianJTDallas

    The ignorance and ego of human's is astounding.....I hope the American political system falls apart soon and there is Anarchy. The monetary system is crap, the government is crap, and the education is royal crap.....and the banks should start making the paper notes out of kevlar.....they're going to need it when the people come looking for them. :o)

    September 16, 2011 at 3:40 am |
  39. come on!

    CNN starts a scientific article with a fictional character? Insulting...

    September 16, 2011 at 3:23 am |
  40. JWB3

    Yea no ***, it's called EARTH. The battles in heaven reported by our ancestors were planets, and aspects of planets.


    September 16, 2011 at 3:21 am |
    • JWB3

      also see http://www.thunderbolts.info/synopsis2.htm

      government economics, government astronomy....

      September 16, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  41. ballyhoo

    And this news is just in time for the Star Wars 6-disk blu-ray set coming out tomorrow. Weird...

    September 16, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  42. XRaDiiX

    I saw "People"

    I saw "Creature"

    I saw "Planet"

    I saw "Planet Snookie"

    I saw "Planet Wookie"

    September 16, 2011 at 3:03 am |
  43. GOD

    (In my Darth Vader voice) There is no god.

    September 16, 2011 at 3:00 am |
    • joeNYC

      I find your lack of faith disturbing.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  44. mac jones

    Is it just me, or do I get the feeling that scientists talk to the journalists like they are 5 yr olds? Ironic, as the scientists are so very excited : )

    September 16, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  45. AJ

    Well written. Bravo!

    September 16, 2011 at 2:56 am |
  46. JC

    I have no doubt that if any life evolves on a planet like that, any intelligent life, they will no doubt consider a sunset where the orange sun eclipses the yellow one as some kind of omen, or message from the gods. Be it good or bad. Or maybe they'll form two opinions of it and spend thousands of years killing one another over the disagreement.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:55 am |
  47. mac jones

    The description of the sunsets made me queasy.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  48. bobby

    This is nothing. Chuck Norris' would have found three suns, and a MCDonald's that didn't eliminate "Super Size Meals" on that planet. Einstein's theory of relativity is wrong. Chuck Norris' roundhouse kicks CAN exceed the speed of light.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  49. Uneducated Fool

    Let's hope technology evolves so a cross-internet ban hammer is feasible! Oh how I wish some people could be banned for a few minutes they time they type: "PROOFS"

    September 16, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  50. Maurice

    I don't believe any of this dark sided mumbo jumbo. Can't you people see that Satan is planting this nonsense into the minds of atheist scientists in order to distract from the one factual TRUTH that matters most – Jesus Christ on the Cross. AMEN! Stop all that sinful astrology nonsense and accept Jesus Christ as your savior. Science is Satan's big lie.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • XRaDiiX

      Ok Jabba the Hutt Mumbo Jumbo Bawinga !!!

      September 16, 2011 at 3:05 am |
    • JC

      @Maurice... ummm, first off, it's ASTRONOMY not astrology. Secondly, either you are blind or just to small minded to accept that the universe is bigger than what your "faith" allows you to believe. Indeed, I have no doubt, that if there were wordpress blogs back in the days of Christopher Columbus, your kind would've said the same about his search for a westward route to the east. Since that meant you would have to accept that the earth is round (eeek!) and not flat as you lot (were lead to) believe.

      September 16, 2011 at 3:43 am |
    • David Myers

      Don't feed the trolls it only makes them feel real and "valuable".

      September 16, 2011 at 4:20 am |
  51. Beefburger

    I for one welcome our new Tatooine overloards.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  52. readmorecarefully

    On second thought...the author could have updated it after reading your feedback i suppose

    September 16, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  53. SoundGuy

    Here's a rendering of the sound of our sun (turn up the volume): http://youtu.be/LzqwzgJq6f0

    September 16, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  54. Beefburger

    PETA wants you to refrain from cruelty to Womp Rats.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  55. Mojo

    Chiken invadors came from Cygnus...egg yolk is lurking in the dark...chickeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen...:-)

    September 16, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  56. readmorecarefully

    The author did say closest "outside our solar system" read more carefully before you bash on someone

    September 16, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  57. Observer

    The problem that some Christians have is that they assume that if you don't believe in God, you believe in the "Big Bang" theory. The "Big Bang" is a THEORY, which means exactly that. It is probably science's best idea so far about how the universe started, but it's a theory. Some nonbelievers believe it and some don't.

    On the other hand, the belief in God is also a theory in that it is unproveable, but you won't find many believers admitting that.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  58. Johnny Creppe

    How is this news going to expand the economy???

    People need a roof over their head and food on the table 99% of people could careless where there maybe a planet with two suns or whatever.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Steve

      Kepler is collecting data on 1000s of new planets. This generates a lot of quality work for technical people to do and improves our understanding of how nature works. The technology used by Kepler may have (A) improved imaging capabilities, (B) improved scientific rendering of data, (C) improved autonomy of satellites, (D) other potential improvements I'm not going into here. If (A), it will be possible to leverage the technology to improve targeting of Earth-based systems or orbiters, potentially enabling greater capability at less cost in future Earth monitoring missions. If (B) we will have better tools to analyze data sets on Earth to enable better conclusions from our data. If (C) we may be able to reduce the ground staff necessary for operationg of orbiting satellites of various types. Don't kid yourself, nobody in government funds scientific missions for the science. They do it for the technology payout – and NASA is a great place for ROI.

      September 16, 2011 at 5:02 am |
    • joeNYC

      99% of people don't care.. exactly. And that is why the dark ages are coming again. Because most people are pss ignorant and don't understand basic science or how to use their brains to strive to make their lives better.

      So society as a whole will fall to a lowest common denominator. So sad – I really had hope for this nation and humanity itself.

      Thanks dummies.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  59. Satwinder

    Please read this, Guru Nanak Dev Ji written in Sikh's Holy Book (Granth Sahib) It was written in 15th or 16th century

    Planets upon planets and hundreds of thousands of skies upon skies.
    Forever and ever, one can search until one grows tired, the Vedas say one thing;
    The scriptures speak of 18,000 worlds, in reality there is only One Universe.
    If one had the knowledge, one could write the account, but it could not be finished.
    Nanak, call Him Great, for He Himself knows all. ||22||

    September 16, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  60. The entire point of space exploration

    Is to find habitable planets. Everything else is just a prelude to that. It's amazing how far we've come. Let's hope the Chinese will carry the torch which we are trying to defund. Also, the American spirit is about the frontier.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:20 am |
  61. cklutch

    Shut up, we get it, they didn't specify outside our solar system.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • joeNYC

      A little common sense would have made it obvious that it is outside our system.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  62. TheAlgerian

    Tatooine is the name of a City in Tunisia. very old city. the name comes from the berber language. it means Eyes or Double. i am sure the script wtiter of starwars intentionaly picked the name for its meaning. salam fellow americans.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  63. TwoSuns

    So what. How about focusing your engineering staff on our broken court system? You know – the one where people are lured into bidding against each other for their kids... while lawyers profit from this Nigerian Con Artist scheme in America? It's a disgrace. Pro Se litigants MUST be respected, not denied. GROW UP LAWYERS... and NASA... fix the "systems" on Earth first. Two suns DOES NOT re-unite me with my kids when their vindictive mother suspends my visitations in retaliation for me asking her to stop stealing money from my paycheck for expenses she no longer incurs.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Steve

      You really want software engineers to "fix" the courts?

      September 16, 2011 at 5:07 am |
    • Yet another news reader

      You're the one who hooked up with this woman. Why should someone else have to *fix* it? You deal with it.

      September 16, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  64. Wicket

    Raise taxes to support NASA! Let the Federation of Planets begin!

    September 16, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  65. helenecha

    Good job, Kepler! I wish Kepler will have far more confidants than its fans.

    September 16, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  66. helenecha

    Good job, Kepler! I wish Kepler will have much more confidants than its fans.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  67. karina

    To all the people pointing out the distance "mistake", please read closer. They state that it is the closest star/planet OUTSIDE our solar system. Your statements about venus and mars' distances are true, however, they are still IN our solar system. Please read things more closely before attempting to point out "mistakes".

    September 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  68. Deus

    Internet trolls are easily startled but they'll be back and in greater numbers!

    September 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  69. RocketScientist

    CNN headline Sept 16:
    Scientists orbiting the sun wiped 2 specs off the telescope and report the disappearance of the double star.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  70. BangORANG

    Why are people even surprised about finding a planet with two suns? I guess it is mildly interesting at best. Things that happen here on earth (people starving, the existance of money, hatred, etc.) are far more surprising than a planet with two suns.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  71. TXJK

    Beam me up Scotty!!!! Now

    September 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  72. CygnusX1

    Whoever wrote this article needs to check his/her physics. First of all, it is impossible to travel *at* the speed of light, unless you are a photon. Secondly, time relative to the *traveler* would not take 2 centuries. In fact, it could be a very short trip for the traveller depending on how close to the speed of light they were travelling.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • David Myers

      Wrong. To the people on the ship traveling at, say, 98% of the speed of light, the double star system and planet in orbit that is 200 light years away, would take a bit more than 200 years to those aboard, quite a bit longer for those still on earth. Study some physics.

      September 16, 2011 at 4:28 am |
      • Steve

        At 0.98c, on a 200LY trip, the passengers would experience (T=gamma*T_0=(1-v^2/c^2)^.5*T_0=0.2T_0=40 years. Look up "Time Dilation" on Wikipedia.

        September 16, 2011 at 5:15 am |
      • Yet another news reader

        Cygnus is right. David is wrong.

        September 16, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Dennis

      David is wrong also. First , traveling at the speed a light was just a measurement for the reader...the author wasn't suggesting it was possible. But the 200 years was from the view of the person on earth. To the light speed traveler the trip would seem instantaneous...Time stands still for the traveler at the speed of light.
      So 98% might be months to the traveler to complete the journey but years longer from the view point of a man on earth.

      It's relative.

      September 16, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • joeNYC

      It was impossible to cross the ocean once too. Give it some time, and hopefully someone will figure out how to travel through space quickly.

      I vote we call the first ship rocinate, and equip it so that it won't fall into a black hole..... 😉

      September 16, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Albert E

      Steve's calcualtion is correct, 39.8 years at 98% of the speed of light. It is obviously not a linear equation, at 99% of the speed of light it "only" seems like 28.2 years to the crew, and at 99.9%, 8.9 years.

      The problem is, mass also increases with speed, so the force needed to accelerate a spaceship to 99.9% of the speed of light is extremely large. A spaceship with a rest mass of 500,000 kg (about 6.5 space shuttle orbiters) has a relativistic mass of over 11 million kg at 99.9% of the sped of light, which would reuqire a force of almost 110 million newtons to accelerate at one g.

      Unless we develop an enirely new source of powering spaceships (which is not out of the realm of possibility, think of the advances in the last 100 years), there is no realistic way to travel to other stars. Even with a new source of propulsion, if I'm correct about general relativity and the speed of light is the ultimate speed limit in the universe, then travel to nearby stars will still take years and years of dilated time.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  73. Astronerd

    To Infinity and beyond!

    September 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  74. the incredable somone


    September 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  75. fluidphysics

    Planet Sun is a article with findings that indicate earth itself was a star

    September 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  76. Sean Patterson

    This is further evidence of the findings in the article "Planet Sun"

    September 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  77. John B

    I think these guys just sit around all day making this stuff up and spending our money on cheap booze and pot.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  78. maary

    I find all new discoveries exciting.. But knowing that we do not have the capabilities of reaching those planets in my lifetime is disheartening..
    If man continues on into the future he is going to have to respect the planet we live on..And with the things that are happening, I some how don't see ever getting to the point we can go to other planets happening.. I think man will destroy himself first.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  79. light year

    If a fighter jet can go 5 to 7 times the speed of sound, Then superior beings can probably travel 5 to 7 times the speed of light.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Mojo

      did you took for blue or green pils today ha ?

      September 16, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • David Myers

      Clearly you know nothing of physics.

      September 16, 2011 at 4:30 am |
    • Dennis

      Yep, They just need 6 or 7 times an infinite amount of energy.

      September 16, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  80. Ca Ed

    Didn't they try and kill of SETI by not funding it – now look what they have gone and done.

    They found something that scientists can munch on for a couple of years/decades.

    I do wonder though; what other things could be found if we were to properly fund these 'useless' projects?

    Nobama will never know.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  81. bailoutsos

    Kepler-16b? I was there in my RV just last weekend. I attended some arts and crafts booths.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  82. Brett Hawton

    A really cool discovery!
    Just a small correction, the article states "Getting to Tatooine aboard a spacecraft traveling at light speed – 186,282 miles per second – would take about two centuries.". Actually for the astronauts aboard the spacecraft travelling at very nearly the speed of light, travel time to Tatooine would take them just a split second. For observers watching the spacecraft journey it would take 200 years of observing to see the journey completed. Using Lorentzian transforms Einstein showed us how time for those astronauts travelling at near light speeds would almost stop and the trip would be completed in the blink of an eye for them.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • F4T N3RD

      Really really dude, you are something else... you know that right,... you are something else. No it wouldnt... it would be nearly impossible for that to happen. We are not that advanced for that kind of travel yet your just an insolent dumb person. Get your weight up dude....

      September 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  83. Jay

    I'm heading there right now, will be back tomorrow afternoon, later...

    September 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • F4T N3RD

      Really really dude, you are something else... you know that right,... you are something else

      September 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  84. Livin' High

    Hey, I saw two suns last night. Pass the j pls.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  85. F4T N3RD

    So what the article is telling me that there is could be life on other planets around the other stars!!!!! I knew it!!!!!

    September 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Chewy

      Actually the article doesn't say anything about life on other planets except the quote "Doyle is highly doubtful that the planet could support life as we know it due to its size and distance from its suns."

      Really dude, you are something else . . . you know that right?

      September 16, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  86. Jabba Desilijic Tiure

    Bobba, make sure you keep these people from this planet called, "Earth," in check.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  87. Jabba Desilijic Tiure

    I am interested in establishing trade relations between our two planets

    September 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  88. smartaz

    2 suns = 2 x the global warming.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  89. john

    I heard this years ago. Why do they keep repeating this stuff?

    September 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  90. Darwin Award goes to...

    Government covered up PLANET X ...

    September 15, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • F4T N3RD

      Thats a asteroid you insolent dumb person you ha ha ha ha ha

      September 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  91. BigRas

    So which sun does it revolve around? Both? How?

    September 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Brett Hawton

      The planet will revolve around the gravitational center of the 2 suns and hence its typically orbiting around a center point between the 2 suns if they were of an equal mass and if they are not of an equal mass then the gravitational center will be closer to the more massive star.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
      • F4T N3RD

        Once again really really dude, you are sumthing else, they already said the two suns are not equal mass, darn it get your facts right before you try to be mr smart A$$ and answer people's questions.

        September 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  92. Roland

    Oh no , now I'll need two diffrent kinds of sunscreen when I'm at the beach....there is a beach isn't there?

    September 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • SciGuy

      There's half a beach, so you get the same amount of sun.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
      • ProfSciWorks

        Tanning wont be you problem; if its like Saturn the atomosphere will be made of clouds of Methane, Ammonia, Acetylene and other noxious elements, and be below zero.(or above 400)

        September 16, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • don

      in that Planet everything is in two's....like two you, two me, two them etc etc,,,and they say good night to you to, to you!!

      September 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
      • venus

        nice,,nice !!

        September 16, 2011 at 6:01 am |
      • Zikica

        I like your double comment! Everything x2 ( salaries, life and ....),Nice:)

        September 16, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • BrianJTDallas

      I have shoes with a higher IQ.......

      September 16, 2011 at 3:46 am |
      • Saran

        I have a shoe too, but with better sense of humor.

        September 16, 2011 at 6:46 am |
    • kebede

      600 million Dollar for Telescope......Oh God Have mercy on us...How many Ethiopians are dying due to hunger and starvation of democracy.............

      September 16, 2011 at 4:22 am |
      • JC

        Before we start crying about 600m dollars for a telescope that advances human knowledge of the universe around them (a noble thing indeed.) maybe we should cry about the 1bn dollar pricetag for a stealth bomber or the war machine of your choice. Simple fact, if 10% of all defense budgets are diverted towards humanitarian aid the world will be a much better place. Stop b!tching about science, start looking at were money is really being wasted

        September 16, 2011 at 4:32 am |
      • Marine5484

        Right....because we should forget about science and everything else that advances our knowledge. Because it is more important to make sure that everyone get their bowl of rice.

        September 16, 2011 at 4:47 am |
      • LuisWu


        September 16, 2011 at 6:00 am |
      • typeav

        600m for that telescope is a great investment, how many other things we have discover in the universe because of this technology...........Did you know that in the year 2009 the BANKS make 39 BILLION DOLLARS charging just overdraft fees ? .......... There is no mercy

        September 16, 2011 at 6:13 am |
      • yanr

        How many of my tax dollars were squandered on your obviously pointless public education?

        September 16, 2011 at 7:19 am |
      • JG

        Perhaps your God should have mercy on the Ethiopians and send some more of that manna from heaven. Seriously if you don't like scientific progress, go live in Afghanistan and see what tribal societies used to be like before the scientific method.

        September 16, 2011 at 7:19 am |
      • ItisI

        Are Ethiopians incompetent? Can they not provide for themselves? If their land is not habitable then maybe it is time for an exodus....If you don't like things where you are, then you have three choices...make it better, leave, or sit on your ass and complain about how bad it is...the choice is on the Ethiopians shoulders, not NASAs.

        September 16, 2011 at 7:37 am |
      • GeeezLouise

        Or better yet.. do you know much money is wasted on your fictitious beliefs?! It's pretty simple... if we could trade in your ridiculous beliefs in imaginary supreme beings and the trillions of dollars it generates, and pump that into poverty everyone on this rock would be very well off.

        September 16, 2011 at 7:46 am |
      • gh

        Since when did we become the rest of the world's salvation army?

        September 16, 2011 at 7:50 am |
      • Brett

        Wait. What's the connection with Ethiopia? Was the telescope made out of wheat and corn?

        September 16, 2011 at 7:59 am |
      • rich

        Maybe god's sycophants here on earth should sell some of their precious property, and art, to help the somalians... Yeah... I'm talking to you pope

        September 16, 2011 at 8:32 am |
      • Ray Brown

        The problem of getting food to starving peoples in foreigh lands is not money, it is logistics. A very significant miitary presnece is needed to protect the distribution process. The technology spinoff from such projects as conducted by NASA and DoD dramatically sitmulates new inventions through a process called serendipity-this is how most things are discovered. The problems thatmust be solved to make such discoveries as this are enormous and contribute to the solution of other problems that are key to improving life for everyone.

        September 16, 2011 at 8:34 am |
      • Doug

        Of course... you could give the starving people of the world everything they needed, and they wouldn't learn how to get it for themselves. Not everyone wants to be hand fed. Some people still have some dignity. Some people still have some pride. Some people would rather do without your petty giveaways and earn it for themselves.

        September 16, 2011 at 8:40 am |
      • livin in the real world

        I didn't know that "starvation of democracy" was a fatal situation. Realistically, you could throw several times the $600M at Ethiopia and there would still be people starving. Why? Because all the corrupt bigwigs take their cut of that money so that it never gets to someone who needs it. However, if you feel that strongly, perhaps you should follow your 'holier-than-thou' ideology, liquidate your worldly possessions, and head on over to Ethiopia where you and your money can personally make more of a difference than a government throwing money at a country ever could – a la Greg Mortenson.

        September 16, 2011 at 8:48 am |
      • literate

        I agree. All the solar discoveries in the world mean nothing if life on earth is not sustainable. That means hunger, that means the environment and pollution, that means rainforest depletion, that means anything else you can think of....Discoveries and curiosity are great, but I hate human priorities...

        September 16, 2011 at 10:02 am |
      • Dana

        Wow! Talk about conversation drift. We went from the Kepler Space Telescope discovering a new and unnusual planet to starving Africans in only one fractal iteration. Amazing.

        September 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
      • Illumin8ted

        Guys Guys Guys! There is another solution...
        Let's just buy a $299,000,000 Telescope and give the other $299,000,000 to various relief organizations. Send the $600,000,000 to me. Boy did I jump into the right conversation! I have been stuck with this lousy $200,000,000 dollar telescope and about $200,000,000 of grain. Had NO idea what I was going to do with that stuff! Send me that $800,000,000 check and I will deliver the goods!

        October 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Sound Guy

      Listen to a rendering of the sound of our sun based on the gravitational limit (turn up the volume): http://youtu.be/LzqwzgJq6f0

      September 16, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • Caveman

      Travelling there in a straight line isn't going to cut it, that would take too long. A new form of "motionless" travel will need to be developed.

      September 16, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • lol

      ," it's right in our own backyard – relatively – about 200 light years from Earth...We have a BIG backyard

      September 16, 2011 at 8:39 am |
      • Dale Blackstock

        I'm glad I don't have to mow it! LOL!

        September 16, 2011 at 10:21 am |
      • xoo

        Or water it.

        September 16, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Prof. Shah

      It may be just Mirror Image!

      September 16, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Winky

      Oh my goshes, I'll have to apply Fair & Lovely bleach cream every hour on the hour !!

      September 16, 2011 at 11:45 am |

    STOP Blaming Barack Obama about finding something 200 light years away

    September 15, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Cliff

      In other news....Perry and Bachmann both race to come out with statements denying belief in this so-called "scientific" discovery. Says Perry, "How can a planet have two suns? That's not part of God's plan." Bachmann said she thinks a planet that would orbit two sons would be "the devils work, bondage, and certainly not something the founding fathers, men like Isaac Newton, would have endorsed."

      September 16, 2011 at 7:55 am |
      • DucaDiMantova

        HAHAHA.... thanks for the laugh. Great start to the day

        September 16, 2011 at 8:18 am |
      • -_-

        I believe she was quoted as saying 'the planet with two suns is slavery,' and so she is taking a stance against the planet, since it's obvious our founding fathers didn't eradicate said slavery. Nancy Pelosi is in meetings with Al Gore on how they can save these suns, which Bachmann retorted, 'Jesus already did that. 2000 years ago. Duh.'

        September 16, 2011 at 8:26 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        LOL worthy. Thanks.

        September 16, 2011 at 8:36 am |
      • mcore

        Haha. Not too far off from what they actually think, I'm sure. And they despise intellectuals. May their uninformed gibberish fall on deaf ears...

        September 16, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  94. prommy

    Girl " Honey..can you get the moon for me.."
    Boy." Oh Yeah..then who the hell gonna revolve around sun.."

    September 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Josh

      Moons revolve around planets, not the sun...

      September 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
      • V. P.

        LOL, now that is funny and true.

        September 16, 2011 at 10:31 am |
      • Jerry M

        Well, they do both really.

        September 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • joesense

      oooh, EPIC fail, sonny.

      September 16, 2011 at 2:23 am |
      • Jeremy

        Anyone who says "EPIC", is the real failure.

        September 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
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