Astronomers have discovered a planet with two stars, reminiscent of Tatooine, Luke Skywalker's home from 'Star Wars.'
Sci-Fi can sometimes really be ahead of its time! Here's some exciting news for Space geeks and "Star Wars" fans. Astronomers have found more real-life versions of Luke Skywalker's home planet Tatooine from the 1977 film. In the franchise, Tatooine is a planet with multiple stars. Now it seems there are other planets out there with multiple stars!
Fresh off the press! We've discovered a new Tatooine-like planet called BEBOP-1c. 🪐— Matthew Standing (@StandingMatthew) June 12, 2023
The planet has two stars in its sky, and is the first circumbinary planet found with radial velocities.#BEBOP1c #exoplanets #StarWars @sairam_lalitha pic.twitter.com/O6W6empxYO
It is the second time a multi-planetary system with two stars at the center has been found, according to findings published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Astronomy, reports The Independent. The Tatooine-like planet was named "Bebop-1c" which stands for Binaries Escorted By Orbiting Planets. Researchers at the University of Birmingham who led the study said in the paper, "We report the detection of a gas-giant planet in orbit around both stars of an eclipsing binary star system. The system discussed in this paper is only the second system known to host multiple planets."
BEBOP-1c is the newly discovered planet, while the first one in this system is TOI-1338b.https://t.co/ft6EohiD0L— Interesting Engineering (@IntEngineering) June 13, 2023
Binary stars, or two stars orbiting each other, are very common, according to Space.com. They gravitationally bound to and in orbit around each other. So far, 14 circumbinary planets have been detected, which whirl around both stars of a binary system at once. "Circumbinary planets were originally thought not to exist, since the binary stars stir up the planet-forming disks, creating a harsh environment for planets to form," study lead author Matthew Standing, an astrophysicist at the Open University in England, shared. "This all changed with the discovery of Kepler-16b in 2011 by the Kepler space telescope. This discovery showed that it must be possible for these planets to form."
New Tatooine-like exoplanet discovered orbiting twin suns. Meet BEBOP-1c. The discovery of the new planet #BEBOP1c confirms the 2nd-ever known planetary system orbiting twin stars... https://t.co/1HxMfFhv0J— Spaceflash News (@spaceflashnews) June 13, 2023
“Planets are born in a disc of matter surrounding a young star, where mass progressively gathers into planets,” study co-author Lalitha Sairam explained in a statement. She said it is easier to pinpoint the location and conditions of planet formation in circumbinary systems when compared to single stars like our Sun. “In the case of circumbinary geometries, the disc surrounds both stars. As both stars orbit one another, they act like a giant paddle that disturbs the disc close to them and prevents planet formation except for in regions that are quiet and far away from the binary,” Dr. Sairam explained.
According to Good News Network, Kepler 16b was the first to be dubbed “the Real Tatooine,” after the "Star Wars" films. Another star system, known as Kepler 35, not only has a gas giant but it is believed that there could be two rocky worlds sitting in the system’s habitable zone where the radiation and temperature are not too hot and not too cold.
Experts are excited about the recent discovery as it proves that you don't need expensive equipment to find these planets. "Until now, circumbinary planets have been discovered in transit by the Kepler and TESS space telescopes, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars," Standing said. This new discovery shows "you don't need expensive space telescopes to detect these planets." They can be found using the radial-velocity technique "from ground-based telescopes with careful planning and target selection."