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Earth-Sized 'Tatooine' Planets Could Be Habitable

With two suns in its sky, Luke Skywalker's home planet Tatooine in "Star Wars" looks like a parched, sandy desert world. In real life, thanks to observatories such as NASA's Kepler space telescope, we know that two-star systems can indeed support planets, although planets discovered so far around double-star systems are large and gaseous. Scientists wondered: If an Earth-size planet were orbiting two suns, could it support life?
It turns out, such a planet could be quite hospitable if located at the right distance from its two stars, and wouldn't necessarily even have deserts. In a particular range of distances from two sun-like host stars, a planet covered in water would remain habitable and retain its water for a long time, according to a new study in the journal Nature Communications.

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Planet Kepler-35b Animation



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NASA's Kepler mission and UF astronomer find two new planets orbiting double suns

Using data from NASA's Kepler mission, a team that includes a University of Florida astronomer has discovered two new planets orbiting double star systems, something that had never been seen until last September.
The newly confirmed planets, called Kepler-34b and Kepler-35b, will be announced in Wednesday's online edition of the journal Nature, said Eric B. Ford, UF associate professor of astronomy. William F. Welsh, associate professor at San Diego State University, is the lead author on the paper.
Kepler-34b and Kepler-35b both orbit a "binary star."

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