Double rainbows and double sunsets are among the spectacular features that would welcome a visitor to a planet with two suns.
Now NASA has offered another reason to investigate the so-called Tatooine worlds, which are named after Anakin Skywalker’s home in Star Wars.
In the right circumstances, they might be habitable.
While the Tatooine planets we already know about are large and gaseous, a hypothetical Earth-sized planet in a twin-star system could support water and the temperatures required for life to develop, the researchers found.
“This means that double-star systems of the type studied here are excellent candidates to host habitable planets, despite the large variations in the amount of starlight hypothetical planets in such a system would receive,” said Max Popp, a researcher at Princeton University.
The research team simulated the conditions for a hypothetical, Earth-sized, water-covered planet in the Kepler-35 system.
The discovery means astronomers can refine their search for habitable worlds across the Milky Way. As many as 50% of the galaxy’s planets are though to orbit twin-star systems.
Siegfried Eggl, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, said: “Our research is motivated by the fact that searching for potentially habitable planets requires a lot of effort, so it is good to know in advance where to look.
“We show that it’s worth targeting double-star systems.”
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