Could Tatooine Be Closer Than We Think?

Bonnie Burton | April 16, 2008

If you don’t mind lots of sand, high temperatures and well… that’s about it, then you might be excited to hear about the idea that a planet like Tatooine could possibly exist in reality. Io9.com reports about Ryosuke Kita of Northwestern University, who recently presented at the Astrobiology Science Conference 2008 about the likelihood of a Tatooine-type planet in a nearby solar system.

Of the 200 or so star systems where we’ve found planets, about 20 percent are binary systems, and that number should go up as we find more, since about half of all main-sequence stars are binaries. Kita’s calculations show that gravity from a second star will perturb an Earth-like planet’s orbit to the point of making its climate uninhabitable. The key, he says, is that the planet can’t be alone — it needs a nearby gas giant to help stabilize its orbit, and allow a climate that could support life.

According to the StarWars.com Databank entry: Tatooine’s silicate surface reflects the light of its suns so intensely that legends tell of its original explorers first mistaking the planet as a third, smaller sun. Also in the system is a pair of uninhabited gas giants, Adriana and Ohann. A combination of magnetic ore desposits, twin stellar radiation, and prevailing wind patterns has made one patch of Tatooine’s surface more habitable than neighboring areas.

Io9.com ponders the possibilities further in saying that “there are two systems that are our best bets for finding the real Mos Eisley — 55 Cancri and Epsilon Andromeda. Both have multiple planets, though Kita says we’re not sure yet whether any are rocky or if they’re all gas giants.”

Read the full article here:
Tatooine Could Be Real, but Needs a Jovian Neighbor Scientists Say (io9.com)

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