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Twin Suns May Host Earth-like Planets (VIDEO)

First Posted: Jul 16, 2015 07:42 AM EDT
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Twin suns were made famous in the Stars Wars movie, when Luke Skywalker gazed toward a double sunset on Tatooine . Now, astronomers have discovered a plethora of planets around binary star systems, which could mean that habitable planets with two "suns" may not just be in the realm of science fiction.

Normal binary stars rotate one another every eight to 100 days. The Kepler telescope can easily pick the exoplanets out in these systems as they transit each sun. In compact binary sun systems, though, it's difficult for even the most advance telescopes to spy exoplanets. The planetary orbital plane of these double suns and their accompanying planets may be misaligned, which renders them invisible to us.

NASA's Kepler telescope monitors star brightness in the Milky Way region near the constellation Cygnus. Kepler detects lower light values and, therefore, planetary transits.

Suns in a closer binary system were likely once standard systems that have lost energy and shrunk, bringing the suns closer together. As the suns' distances decrease, the orbits of the system's planets become misaligned. This means that researchers need to find another way to spot these planets.

With that said, scientists do have a suggestion. It's possible to scout for exoplanet-caused disturbances for compact binary star systems in order to determine a new population of circumbinary planets.

The findings reveal that there could be a host of exoplanets out there orbiting compact binary stars. With that said, it's necessary to find out better methods to detect these planets.

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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