Astronomers Have Discovered a Tatooine-Like Star System

Monday, 27 February 2017 - 9:47PM
Astrophysics
Science of Sci-Fi
Monday, 27 February 2017 - 9:47PM
Astronomers Have Discovered a Tatooine-Like Star System
Lucasfilm
It looks like Star Wars may not have taken place so far, far away after all. Scientists have just announced a star system that is very similar to Luke Skywalker's home world of Tatooine, a solid planet orbiting inside a binary star system.

Tatooine of course has two suns, and scientists have known for some time that binary star systems, which contain two stars in orbit together, do exist. However, they previously have not been known to contain any rocky planets like Tatooine, only gas giants similar to Jupiter or Saturn. The new discovery was found in the binary star system SDSS 1557, captured by the Gemini Observatory South telescope and the European Southern Observatory's "Very Large Telescope," both located in Chile.

First announced on February 27 in the scientific journal NatureSDSS 1557 is located about 1,000 light years away and consists of a white dwarf star and a brown dwarf star - which sounds like it could produce one of those glorious Tatooine sunsets. What makes scientists suspect there's potential for a rocky planet is the presence of asteroid debris in the system - the first time such debris has been observed in a binary star system, and a possible sign that rocky planets did exist in the system and were destroyed. So while they haven't discovered a Tatooine-like planet that still exists, they found evidence that one likely existed a long time ago.

It's also a significant find because planet formation is still a topic we don't know much about, and how easily a planet could even form in systems with multiple stars was a subject of some debate. According to the study's lead author, Dr. Jay Fahiri:
Opening quote
"Building rocky planets around two suns is a challenge because the gravity of both stars can push and pull tremendously, preventing bits of rock and dust from sticking together and growing into full-fledged planets. With the discovery of asteroid debris in the SDSS 1557 system, we see clear signatures of rocky planet assembly via large asteroids that formed, helping us understand how rocky exoplanets are made in double star systems."
Closing quote


While we don't think scientists are going to discover any moisture farms in the system, SDSS 1557 still represents a pretty cool discovery. And anything that makes Star Wars seem a little more real is the type of scientific discovery we can get behind.

via GIPHY



Via: Inverse
Science
Space
Astrophysics
Science of Sci-Fi