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Tatooine-like planet: Astronomers spot pair of planets orbiting twin suns (+video)

Tatooine-like planet: In a cosmic first, astronomers have discovered two alien planets orbiting two stars, not unlike Luke Skywalker's home planet in the Star Wars films.

This artist's movie illustrates Kepler-47, the first transiting circumbinary system -- a system with more than one planet orbiting a pair of stars -- 4,900 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus.. The system was detected by NASA's Kepler space telescope, which measures minisucule changes in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets that pass in front of or 'transit' their host star. The movie begins by showing a birds-eye view of the system as it zooms in on the host stars.
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Astronomers have for the first time discovered two alien planets whirling around a pair of stars: a complete solar system with twin suns just like Luke Skywalker's fictional home world Tatooine.

Most stars like our sun are not singletons, but rather come in pairs that orbit each other. Scientists had found planets in these binary systems, so-called circumbinary planets with two suns like Tatooine in the "Star Wars" universe.

To find more circumbinary planets, astronomers analyzed data from NASA's prolific Kepler space telescope, which has detected more than 2,300 potential alien worlds since its March 2009 launch. Kepler had to date detected four systems with circumbinary planets — Kepler-16, 34, 35 and 38.

The scientists have now announced the detection of Kepler-47, the first system seen with multiple worlds encircling a pair of stars. The star and its planets, called Kepler-47b and Kepler-47c, dwell about 5,000 light-years away, in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. [Planets of the Tatooine-like Solar System (Gallery)]

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