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Tatooine-like Planet Discovered

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the mos-eisley-not-included dept.

Space 403

ATP writes "CNN is reporting that a planet has been discovered in a solar system with 3 suns. The observation brings into doubt the theory stating that planets form from the dust orbiting around a single sun. The discovery also resulted in a new method of searching for extrasolar planets-- until now most searching focused only on single-sun systems."

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First Post Mind Trick (5, Funny)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070042)

This is not the planet you're looking for.

This is not the planet we're looking for.

Move along.

Move along.

Re:First Post Mind Trick (1)

vonsneerderhooten (254776) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070358)

Bravo, young padawan.
Excellent Execution.

OMFG (0, Offtopic)

charon_1 (562573) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070049)

omfg... I saw this on CNN like 3 hours ago, but thought nobody on slashdot would care.
Damnit... I missed a good opportunity for my first accepted /. submission.
**kicks self** (fp?)

More changes for next release of star wars... (5, Funny)

FrontalLobe (897758) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070053)

Don't let George Lucas see this. He'll want to change the next release of episode 4 and have Luke looking over 3 suns setting.

"Really, I had always wanted it to be 3 suns, and now we have the technology to produce my original vision"

Re:More changes for next release of star wars... (1)

nathos (655477) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070088)

Yes, but the new third sun will shoot the second sun first.

...

and a parade of ewoks will smash the first sun with a log. now THAT's an original vision!

Re:More changes for next release of star wars... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070137)

Here's a closeup of the planet, fwiw: image [imageshack.us]

Re:More changes for next release of star wars... (1)

Armadni General (869957) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070310)

The parent is a photograph of a page in the new Harry Potter book. It's a spoiler. Don't click it if you value suspense as a literary device.

Re:More changes for next release of star wars... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070313)

that shit was funny, but change the image filename so it's not DUMBLEDORE DIES, make it something more generic like HOT TWINK JACKING OFF

Re:More changes for next release of star wars... (1)

Gherald (682277) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070157)

Don't let George Lucas see this. He'll want to change the next release of episode 4 and have Luke looking over 3 suns setting.

"Really, I had always wanted it to be 3 suns, and now we have the technology to produce my original vision"
How do you know Tatooine didn't actually have a 3rd sun that wasn't visible in the shot?

Re:More changes for next release of star wars... (2, Informative)

attemptedgoalie (634133) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070232)

As depressing as it is, I remember reading the Empire Strikes Back Trivia Guide, and the suns were Tatoo I and Tatoo II.

No 3rd sun in that system, according to that source.

Wrong book title... (1)

attemptedgoalie (634133) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070245)

It was the Jedi Master's Trivia Guide.

D'oh!

Tatooine has 2 suns... (4, Informative)

isd_glory (787646) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070060)

Come on... even google knows how many suns there are.
http://www.google.com/search?q=tatooine+suns [google.com]

Re:Tatooine has 2 suns... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070100)

Holly fsck thats spooky

Re:Tatooine has 2 suns... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070150)

The 'water planet' named 'Trisol' on Futurama has three suns.

Episode: 1ACV07 - My Three Suns [gotfuturama.com]

Re:Tatooine has 2 suns... (2, Interesting)

lowem (899426) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070241)

Cool! But when it comes to our own planet, Google doesn't seem to pull off the same trick :)
http://www.google.com/search?q=earth+suns [google.com]

Re:Tatooine has 2 suns... (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070254)

This planet is more like that one in Perfect Dark that I forgot the name of.

Re:Tatooine has 2 suns... (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070280)

Pitch Black [imdb.com] was the name of the movie actually. Not bad either.

Re:Tatooine has 2 suns... (1)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070318)

Hey cool! The first example I've seen of Googles wikipedia support and semantic web. Thanks.

Name that star... (0)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070063)

I heard the three suns have been named Moe, Larry and Curly. :P

Re:Name that star... (3, Funny)

mesach (191869) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070104)

More like Mike, Robbie, and Chip :P

Re:Name that star... (1)

stuktongue (140376) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070331)

Oh, man, that takes me back. Thanks for a good laugh.

Re:Name that star... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070120)

if somebody mods this funny i'm gonna have to quit /.

Re:Name that star... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070124)

I have the mod points but I just can't mod myself. That wouldn't be fair to everyone else. ;)

Re:Name that star... (1)

mesach (191869) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070162)

To bad you cant mod in your own threads or maybe you should mod me up for having the correct reference.

Re:Name that star... (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070187)

Or Winken, Blinken and Nod.

Or Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego.

Or Caspar, Melchoir and Balthasar.

Or Athos, Porthos and D'Artagnan.

Or Carreras, Domingo and Pavarotti.

Or Lee, Lifeson, and Peart.

My vote's for Lee, Lifeson and Peart. (1)

attemptedgoalie (634133) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070278)

Great choice. :-)

OT... Re:My vote's for Lee, Lifeson and Peart. (1)

stuktongue (140376) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070350)

Dude, I wouldn't name these three suns after them, but I hear ya... I'm a big Rush fan, too. Is there any news of a new album from these guys? I haven't looked over rush.com in a while (need to do that... I love Lifeson's KISS sketch).

Re:Name that star... (1)

vonsneerderhooten (254776) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070296)

Or Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.

Fact: Dumblecore dies in the new Harry Potter book (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070068)

Fact: Dumblecore dies in the new Harry Potter book. Fact: Snapes is the Half-Blood Prince. Proof: http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/2197/dumbledore dies0wl.jpg [imageshack.us]

Re:Fact: Dumblecore dies in the new Harry Potter b (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070297)

how about Fedora Core? When is it going to die?

location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070078)

I suppose it's in a galaxy far, far away?

OB Simpsons ref (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070079)

"I call it a Hawking Planet."

Simpsons? (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070218)

Which Simpsons is that a reference to? I'm pretty sure it's a reference to Futurama, but I can't remember which episode. Either Anthology of Interest I or Anthology of Interest II, as part of the "What if I never fell into the freezer-doodle and came to the future-jiggy?" question that Fry asked, which "was less stupid, but ... asked ... in a profoundly stupid manner."

Re:Simpsons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070266)

It's from Futurama's Anthology of Interest 1. =)

A long time ago... (4, Funny)

gringer (252588) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070080)

I guess the galaxy isn't so far away after all

Not really Tatooine-like... (5, Informative)

Owndapan (789196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070085)

As noted by The Register [theregister.co.uk] , the planet is not in a galaxy far, far away, but a mere 149 light-year jaunt through our own Milky Way.

Pitch Black (5, Insightful)

mesach (191869) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070091)

Might it be more like the planet in Pitch Black instead of Tattoine?

Re:Pitch Black (1)

duffahtolla (535056) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070207)

I thought that too. But I don't think that planet had a name. It was just planet #2 of the M-344/G system. (Yes, I'm a nerd)

But in any case, I think by "Tatooine like" he means any planet with 2 or more suns, so Tatooine is just fine. Even tho the first example actually found has three.

Re:Pitch Black (1)

plaxion (98397) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070289)

I agree, but you must be new here.

While Pitch Black [imdb.com] actually had three suns in it, factual information has never gotten in the way of a /. story before. Besides when it comes to chosing which articles to post, the obvious bias for all things Star Wars here tends to give the editors tunnel vision.

The effects of 3 suns (4, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070095)

Imagine if such a planet were habitable (that is, a planet with three suns). Think about how much of our human existence is dictated by the cycles of our single sun. I wonder how different things would be with three suns.

Would agriculture ever start? Would dwellings all be subterranean? Would concepts of work and play be utterly different? Religions would evolve differently. Would gender roles be affected?

Does anyone know of a work of science fiction that delves into this, in the way that The Left Hand of Darkness [wikipedia.org] explored gender issues?

Yes (4, Interesting)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070134)

It's called nightfall [amazon.com] and it's by Isaac Asimov. It's not one of his better works-- it has some neat ideas in it, but it was originally a short story that was later extended to novel length and as a result it feels rather stretched. Perhaps the original short story is better, I don't know (I've only read the novel).

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070300)

The short story is way better. It just presents the idea, and then stops. The book just dragged on and on without doing anything else new.

Re:The effects of 3 suns (3, Insightful)

bc90021 (43730) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070155)

Actually, for as much of our culture that's dictated by the sun, a *lot* of it is dictated by the moon. Our calender is based first on the moon (months, a word that may have derived from moonths?), women's cycles are typically ~28 days (the length of the lunar cycle), tides are more heavily influenced by the moon than the sun, and a number of other things I can't think of right now. I'm not denying the sun's influence by any means - obviously, without it's warmth and light there'd be just about nothing on this planet. But don't understimate the moon, which is as important, if not moreso.

Re:The effects of 3 suns (1)

Gogo Dodo (129808) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070203)

There was a TV show awhile back called "If We Had No Moon" narrated by Patrick Stewart that covered this. Very interesting.

Re:The effects of 3 suns (1)

Bluesy21 (840772) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070251)

Our moon is also responsible for the length of a day because the tidal forces you described actually slow down the rotation of the Earth. Most importantly, the moon is responsible for keeping our planet tilted within the range it is. Otherwise, the tilt of our planet could easily fluctuate causing very destabled weather, sunlight patterns and basically distroy life on the planet. Unfortuanetly, the moon is also moving away from Earth at about 1-1.5cm a year (this has been proved through bouncing lasers off mirrors placed on the moon by the Apollo missions). Eventually it will totally escape the gravity of our planet and may cause the demise of life as we know it. Better than the moon slowly moving towards the Earth and causing a catastrophic collision I suppose.

Re:The effects of 3 suns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070293)

I agree. Other than Solaris and general unix goodness, I can't think of a single useful thing that came out of Sun...

Creating a world would be fun (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070322)

Actually, for as much of our culture that's dictated by the sun, a *lot* of it is dictated by the moon.

Excellent points, of course. This all makes me think of an exercise that my Physical Anthropology prof in college used to run each year. He'd invite anthropologists, artists, psychologists, writers, paleontologists, historians, engineers, of all stripes together for the creation of a mock species.

The group would start out with a skull, created by one or two of the participants. Then everyone would extrapolate the creatures form, it's level of intellect, and how its society would have evolved based on its physical characteristics. I don't recall, but I believe the assumption was that the critter evolved on an Earth-like planet.

It would be interesting to create a gathering akin to this, but postulating the creation of a world instead. Describe its relative solar position, the number, proximity and size of its moons, and so on, then theorize as to how evolution would have proceeded on such a planet, and take that evolution to the point of human-level intellect. The resulting world could be pretty amazing - moreso perhaps than the vast majority of the worlds we are exposed to in run of the mill sci-fi.

Re:The effects of 3 suns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070265)

*cough* Pitch Black *cough*

Re:The effects of 3 suns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070270)

Asimov's Nightfall nover deals with a planet that is ligthed by something like 5 suns. There's always a sun in the sky, so inabitants are afraid of darkness.

The Great Conjunction! (1)

Sunlighter (177996) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070279)

Imagine if such a planet were habitable (that is, a planet with three suns). Think about how much of our human existence is dictated by the cycles of our single sun. I wonder how different things would be with three suns.

Yeah, imagine if the three suns lined up every thousand years. A Gelfling might have to find the shard and heal the Dark Crystal.

The big question.. (1)

EvilStein (414640) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070284)

What time would college students roll out of bed? When Sun #1 rose? Sun #2?

Many questions to ask about this multiple sun stuff. ;)

More importantly... (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070339)

When would all of the gunfights occur, when there's no "high noon"?

Re:The effects of 3 suns (1)

adolfojp (730818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070319)

There is always Nightfall. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightfall_(Asimov) [wikipedia.org]

It is a great short story that inspired two terrible movies and a somewhat good book.

Cheers,

Adolfo

Re:The effects of 3 suns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070329)

A Mote in gods Eye, by Niven and Pournelle is quite enjoyable.

Re:The effects of 3 suns (3, Interesting)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070335)

I wonder how different things would be with three suns.

Appearances aside, not much.

If the planet's environment is life-friendly, then it's only a matter of time before life evolves on it. Lifeforms will then thrive on the resources until a resource limit is met and competition (i.e. "survival of the fitest") kicks in.

Because of the survival benifits that cooperation and intelligence have, some lifeforms will take an evolutionary path towards that... more complex behaviors will likely evolve, eventually leading up to societal-type levels of interactions and intelligence.

Somewhere out there's a mass of stuff wondering what a world with only one sun would be like...

Re:The effects of 3 suns (3, Interesting)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070376)

Appearances aside, not much.

You seem to be making the argument that essentially a habitable planet is a habitable planet is a habitable planet. Don't you think, though, that if Earth had three suns, life might have evolved in a vastly different fashion?

I don't know the answer, but it does seem to me that many of the assumptions we take for granted about organic life and its development might not apply on a world with three suns. For example, on a "desert planet" like Tatooine, there may be no aquatic mammals. Assuming current speculation about the evolution of mammals on Earth is true, perhaps on a desert planet large-brained creatures might not ever evolve.

My ignorance in matters of biology outstrips my knowledge of the subject by a wide margin, so I am just poking around curiously to see what others think.

Re:The effects of 3 suns (1)

chochos (700687) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070338)

I don't know about 3 suns but 2010 ends when Jupiter turns into Lucifer, a second sun, and talks a little about how this affects life on Earth.
I can't remember if the subject comes up again in 2061 though, since a big part of that story takes place in space (again)...

Re:The effects of 3 suns (1)

aykroyd (82171) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070347)

Didn't the film "Pitch Black" deal with a planet that had three suns?

I didn't know tatooine was a gas giant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070098)

...weird I missed that in the movie.

Tatooine? (0)

MindNumbingOblivion (668443) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070099)

Tatooine has two suns, creatively named Tatoo I and Tatoo II.

The only planet I can readily recall from science fiction with three suns is the one from Pitch Black (and even then I think I'm making up the third sun). Most hard scifi authors and such place habitable planets around star systems like ours or around binaries (though most scifi universes take for granted that there is a habitable star in the Proxima-Alpha Centaurus complex (made up of Rigil Kentaurus A and B and Proxima Centaurus)).

I will be very interested to hear the explanation for this.

//crosses arms and scowls
//Luuuuucy, you got some 'splainin to do!

Re:Tatooine? (1)

MindNumbingOblivion (668443) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070110)

Damnation. I coulda sworn there was like, one post there just a few seconds ago. This place is worse than fark.

Re:Tatooine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070381)

Asimov wrote a novel (who's title escapes me) set on a planet with about 5 suns. They had perpetual day except for once every thousand years or so when all the suns set the people saw the stars and they all went crazy

Luke... (-1, Offtopic)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070112)

Luke, I am your fungus!

Uhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070113)

So how about we just go with the theory that planets form from dust from one or more suns??? What, because there's more than one star in the system, suddenly none of them have dust?

Anyway, how do they even know this planet formed as part of this system? Maybe three stars formed, one of them with a planet, and then they wound up getting into a binary system. Or maybe we just had this three star system and then a planetoid got thrown into it. Lots of things could have happened.

Re:Uhh... (5, Informative)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070373)

Actually, it is somewhat surprising that a multi-star system would have a significant planet-forming debris cloud. Orbital mechanics tend to be relatively unstable in multi-star systems, so it's considerably more likely that the dust and debris would end up in unstable orbits and fall into one of the stars, instead of clumping up into a planet with a stable orbit. The fact that a planet can actually have a stable orbit in a system with three stars is actually somewhat surprising to me.

As for the system being thrown together after forming seperately, that's highly unlikely. First of all, space is mostly... well, space. The chances against two star systems colliding at all, nevermind doing so in a way that forms a stable three-star system are, no pun intended, astronomical. Even if a stable three-star configuration formed, it's even more likely that the sudden change in orbital dynamics would promptly eject the planet from the system (not hard to do--actually, if memory serves me, Mercury is in the process of being very slowly ejected from our own solar system. The sun will probably die first, though).

So, yes, lots of things could have happened... most of them probably even more fantastically implausible than the system forming as-is.

Does it also contain.... (5, Funny)

ribo-bailey (724061) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070127)

THE SPICE!!!???

Re:Does it also contain.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070240)

You're thinking of Arrakis, you incompetent twit.

not like Tatooine... (4, Informative)

Honor (695145) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070153)

From the article:

The planet, a gas giant slightly larger than Jupiter, orbits the main star of a triple-star system known as HD 188753 in the constellation Cygnus.

Unless I missed something major when watching the movies, Tatooine isn't a gas giant...

Re:not like Tatooine... (1)

mesach (191869) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070172)

Nor does it have 3 suns.

Re:not like Tatooine... (1)

ohsnapt (882839) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070202)

Unless I was mistaken, I think the article is placing the "Tatooine-like" on the fact that it's a planet with multiple suns, not that it's a desert like planet. /me places thumper /me runs away

Big cloud of noxious gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070160)

Not only did tatooine have only two suns, it was NOT a gas giant. So this crappy post is really stretching for the star wars connection.

OH GOD that's scary. The confirm-you're-not-a-script noise is "JARBNXM".. I'm afraid to ask what the M is for.

Still 3 suns short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070174)

Isaac Asimov's story "Nightfall" is set on a planet with 6 suns. So keep looking!

Brings into doubt? (1)

c2_bag (899988) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070185)

The observation brings into doubt the theory stating that planets form from the dust orbiting around a single sun. Ok how many planets have we actually found out there? Considering how huge the whole thing is I'd say anything new that's found has the possibility of bringing theories into doubt.

Re:Brings into doubt? (1)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070380)

We've found quite a large planets in the last decade, actually, but only by observing the faint variations they create in the motion of their parent stars. Most planets are too distant and too faint to be seen directly by our telescopes, but that doesn't mean we can't still detect them indirectly.

Too convenient (-1, Troll)

robogun (466062) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070192)

I don't know how many people are just a little bit skeptical of all these extrasolar planetary systems. I'm not denying that planets exist and there are probably a lot of them, but to observe them directly seems like a bit of a long shot, considering their orbital planes have to be edge-on to us.

How unlikely is such an observation? Last June, the planet Venus transitted the disk of the Sun from our viewpoint. The last time this happened was in 1882. The transit lasted six hours. Mercury transits are more common, but still years apart. Yet extrasolar systems are being discovered weekly, sometimes several per week.

It seems more probable that these discoveries are based on thin evidence in order to justify grants, or, on the case of the exoplanets discovered by amateurs, an attempt to gain notoriety. And mischaracterizations such as the headline which suggests a Tattoine-like planet has been found will only lead to disappointment. Unless someone wants to write science fiction about a planet with a thousand degree mean temperature and surface gravity 10 times Earth.

Re:Too convenient (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070227)

Shut up.

Re:Too convenient (1)

ohsnapt (882839) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070230)

AFAIK (w/o RTFA) most of these new discoveries are from infrared readings from the new infrared telescope that was launched into orbit a while back (Spitzer is the name?). Using this telescope, they look at the infrared radiation emitted by a star, which radiates out in a solid disk if there is no planet. The first clue that a planet exists in a system is if there is an abnormal gap or break in the sun's disk

Re:Too convenient (3, Interesting)

ogre7299 (229737) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070291)

If you had done your research on this before speaking, you would find that except for one or two exceptions, all extrasolar planets have been indirectly discovered. They were discovered by using spectroscopy over a sometimes long period of time,depending on the planet's orbit. The shift in the spectral lines over time allows observers to calculate the radial velocity of a star with respect to the center of mass of the planetary system. This information in turn infers that there is a planet orbiting the star and certain characteristics such as mass of the planet, eccentricity of the orbit, and distance from the star. www.howstuffworks.com has a very simple description of extrasolar planet searching.

Also, the Spitzer space telescope has directly confirmed the existence of already known planets that were discovered using the indirect method. It is possible with the Spitzer telescope rather than Hubble because stars put out much less light in the infrared than in the visible wavelengths.

Solid Science (2, Insightful)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070341)

I think science does demand healthy sckepticism, however, you are making some comparisons that don't quite match up.

For instance, detecting planets within our own solar system is far different than detecting one many lightyears away. In our solar system, all you really need is a good earth based telescope and a little luck. To detect extrasolar planets, one must observe things like star wobble. IANAA, but considering that we've not even photographed the entire sky using orbit based long range cameras (so I've heard), the chances of an actual photo of a planet is extremely remote, even knowing where one is, because of brightness issues.

I've often thought that it is equivilant to trying to see a moth flying around a lone streetlight 2 miles away with the naked eye. Unless the moth is extremely large, and far enough away from the light itself, you'll never see it. Though, you may see the light wavering as the moth flies around the light. Thus, you can know that something is flying around it, but not actually make out what it is.

On one hand, you state that we're in for disappointment and that the likelihood of a real direct observation is small. I agree 100%. But, that the evidence is thin, I would disagree. Gravitational pull (and wavelength shifts) on a star, while certainly not concrete evidence, has been used long before other planets were reported discovered. The foundations of the theories are solid, in as far as using credible contemporary science.

Now, if they found these planets using Seti, claiming to have uncovered a prime number sequence transmittion encoded with a 3d schematic of a machine who's purpose is unknown, but looks like possibly a gyroscope... I'd say they've been watching too many Jodie Foster movies.

Uh, no. (4, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070357)

Most extrasolar planets have been discovered by the wobble of the sun, due to the planet's gravity. Most of the rest have been observed due to abnormal infrared images (gaps or unexpected reflections). Some have been detected by gaps in dust clouds, where they have swept paths clear. A few have been directly observed, though those are mostly extra-solar planets that have escaped their original system.


With the exception of the one rock planet observed, ALL are gas giants and virtually all many times larger than all the Gas Giants in our own solar system combined. We are NOT talking something the size of Venus, here, we are talking something closer in size to our own sun. This does make a bit of a difference.


To directly observe a planet the size of Earth at a resolution of 1 pixel at a distance of 100 light-years would require a radio telescope with a 1 Km diameter. The proposed Km radio telescope array would do this. Nobody has such a telescope (yet) so nobody is making this sort of claim (yet). But it could be done, it has been designed and (last I heard) it was being built. Once it is finished, planetary discoveries will be made much more rapidly and much more reliably.


It is unlikely to happen in my lifetime, but such an array, in space, would be able to scan a lot of absorbtion frequencies, allowing you to not only detect such a planet, but know the composition of the atmosphere as well. A 1 mile diameter array in space would give you 6.25 pixels-worth of data - certainly enough to detect the existance of weather patterns and possibly enough to detect large moons (provided they are radio objects).

Re:Too convenient (1)

PigIronBob (885337) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070360)

It never ceases to amaze me how little people seem to know about Astronomy, it must be the culmination of mankind's reasoning powers, combining a large number of academic disciplines, yet still allowing the spirit to be lifted in awe and pure delight. Sorry I've been a Stargazer all my life can't get enough of it.

Tatooine? (4, Insightful)

vanyel (28049) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070196)

To me, Tatooine-like would be "that earthish desert planet", not "that gas giant with 3 suns"...

No (2, Interesting)

jcorno (889560) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070204)

The observation brings into doubt the theory stating that planets form from the dust orbiting around a single sun.

No, it doesn't. That's assuming the star system is as old as the planet. There's no way they can see how the four move relative to each other, so they're just guessing. The two most likely scenarios I can think of are that a star with a planet drifted into a binary system, or three stars and failed star (gas giant) managed--by chance--to drift together without crashing into each other. When they can show me four stars in eliptical orbits in the same plane, then I'll be impressed, but it'll still only suggest a big star had two gas giants big enough to start burning.

In other news: (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070205)

In other news: Lucasfilm files a John Doe lawsuit against an unidentified Creator, alleging that he or she is using the copyrighted solar system design and setting without an explicit permission.

Re:In other news: (1)

DarkDragonVKQ (881472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070292)

Heh, only in America can that happen. Yes I know you were joking. But chances are that's a possiblity with some of the lawsuits in America.

A Long Time Ago.... (1)

up2ng (110551) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070228)

In a galaxy far, far away.... My Ass.

I knew it was true ever since I was a kid ! Ha !

Like Tatooine? (4, Funny)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070231)

Like Tatooine?

No love for Pitch Black [imdb.com] ?

Besides, Vin Diesel can kick Chewbacca's ass. He can do anything [4q.cc] .

Re:Like Tatooine? (3, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070298)

Be careful about that second link. Every time I open the page, Norton Personal Firewall catches an intrusion attempt:

A computer with the IP address 0.0.0.0 sent information that is characteristic of the HTTP_ActivePerl_Overflow attack.

Forget the other possibilities... (1)

concept10 (877921) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070275)

... I just want to know if the planet has some of those howling sand guys with the funny sticks ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_People/ [wikipedia.org] I wouldnt mind meeting one to see what revenge plans they have for Lord Vader.

Re:Forget the other possibilities... (1)

heypete (60671) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070346)

Surely you mean the Tusken Raiders, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tusken_Raiders [wikipedia.org]

I just wikified the Sand_People page to point toward the Tusken_Raiders one, FYI. Thanks for pointing out that discrepancy.

Re:Forget the other possibilities... (1)

concept10 (877921) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070370)

I dont know how the underscore got into the link... Sand Peopel worked when I first posted, and yes I know they are called Tusken Raiders. :)

Image of the Planet system (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13070299)

Space.com has some images of the new planet system http://tinyurl.com/e2j7z [tinyurl.com] .

False Advertising (5, Insightful)

aykroyd (82171) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070317)

"Tatooine-like Planet Discovered," I read. Eagerly, I clicked the link. "They've found a way to tell just what the planet is like! Now that is news!"

Oh, but wait... It's actually a story about a planet that was discovered in a solar system with three stars. What in the hell does that have to do with making the planet "Tatooine-like"? That's like calling every other planet in our system "Earth-like".

*sigh*

He could be right, you know... (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070326)

Hey, come on. Give the submitter a break. Are you all 100% certain that Cowboy Neal hasn't seen some new special edition of Star Wars in which Lucas changed Tatooine into a gas giant and gave it another sun?

...

Because Lucas finally has the technology now to create the movie he originally wanted to make.

...

And you all know it could happen.

Since when was Tatooine a gas giant? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070337)

This planet is like Tatooine like Jupiter is like Earth. It has the same number of suns in the star system but that's about it.

Jumping to conclusions? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070344)

Isn't it possible that the planet got knocked away from its original star and got grabbed by the new one? Now if more such planets are found then its time to look at other theories but one doesn't mean much.

That's no planet (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#13070382)

....that's a Death Star in orbit.
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