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Exoplanetology

Tatooine. Pwn'd.

15 Sep 2011, 19:24 UTC
Tatooine. Pwn'd.
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Today, the discovery of the first planet orbiting two stars have just been announced. Kepler-16 (AB) b or simply Kepler-16 b (or simply "Tatooine") has been revealed.

Kepler-16 b is 216 light years away, and it orbits around two stars that are orange and red in color, both are smaller and "cooler" than our own sun. Kepler-16b orbits them far enough such that the two stars are being felt as one source of gravity. The planet is on a stable orbit, but the movement of the two stars orbiting each other makes the Habitable Zone dynamic and could vary the temperature of that zone by at least 30 degrees. This tells us to to look at the Habitable Zone not as a fixed "place" but as something dynamic. "The notion of habitable zones in a planetary system has got to change. It's a dynamic thing," says one of the scientists.

All this makes the Kepler-16 star system a wonderful laboratory that will definitely teach us more about Habitability in the future. And it will tells us the possibility of planets around other binary Star Systems like Alpha Centauri which is just 4.2 light years away.

So what is it like ...

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