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First Exoplanet Discovered Orbiting Two Stars

astroengine (1577233) writes | more than 2 years ago

Space 0

astroengine writes "For the first time, astronomers have discovered an exoplanet orbiting binary stars. Kepler-16b, a Saturn-sized world approximately 200 light-years away, orbits Kepler-16, two stars locked in a mutual dance. Although other exoplanets are known to exist in binary systems, they have only been known to be orbiting one star of the binary pair; Kepler-16b orbits both.

"It shows the gears of celestial mechanics turning and interlocking so vividly, you almost want to reach out and touch it," exoplanet scientist Marc Kuchner, with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told Discovery News. "Kepler himself would have been dizzy with excitement."

No doubt Kepler-16b will excite memories of Tatooine, Luke Skywalker's homeworld, but the double sunset is where the similarities end. Kepler-16b would be anything but a desert world; it is the approximate size of Saturn, it is extremely cold, and is the average density of water."

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