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Tatooine-Like System: Rocky Debris Orbiting Two Stars Discovered For The First Time

First Posted: Feb 28, 2017 03:52 AM EST
Can Two-Star Systems Like Tatooine’s Exist?
Would the Earth be habitable if it had two suns? Astronomers have suggested that Earth-like ‘Tatooine’ planets could support life.
(Photo : DNews/YouTube screenshot)

The astronomers discovered for the first time a planetary system that is like that of Tatooine, which is the home of Star Wars Jedi Luke Skywalker. The system is in the form of rocky debris orbiting two stars, which are a white dwarf and a brown dwarf about 1,000 lightyears away in a system known as SDSS 1557.

The findings of the discovery were published in Nature Astronomy. The study was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the European Research Council. The study was led by researchers from the University College London (UCL), according to Phys.org.

The University College London (UCL) stated that the debris appears to be rocky and suggests that terrestrial planet like Tatooine might exist in the system. The planetary material that was detected in the SDSS 1557 system contains a high metal content. These include silicon and magnesium. They were identified when the debris flowed from its orbit onto the surface of the star. They ejected about 1017 g of matter equivalent to an asteroid of at least 4 km in size.

Dr. Jay Farihi, the lead author of the study from UCL Physics and Astronomy, said that 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 onto full-fledged planets. He further said that with the discovery of asteroid debris in the SDSS 1557 system. They see clear signatures of rocky planet assembly via large asteroids that formed. This aids them in understanding how rocky exoplanets are made in double star systems.

The researchers examined the system by gauging various wavelengths of light, or spectra. They used two large telescopes located in Chile, according to NDTV. 

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