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Dual stars found with multiple planets orbiting them

The dual star combination, reminiscent of Tatooine in Star Wars, was found in the constellation Cygnus - the first time multiple planets were found in a binary star system.

Two starsEnlarge
Astronomers find planets with twin stars reminiscent of Star Wars' "Tatooine." (CalTech/NASA/Courtesy)

A double star, double planet combination was found this week by NASA's Kepler telescope.

The dual star combination, reminiscent of Tatooine in the movie Star Wars, was found in the constellation Cygnus - the first time multiple planets were found in a binary star system.

For now though, the two Tatooines will not get any human visitors given that they are about 5000 light years away, said National Geographic.

NASA said that the find shows how complex planetary systems can be and that mulitple planets can handle the chaos in a binary star system.

Kepler-47, the system's new name, has a star about as big as the sun and another that is about a third of the size.

UPI reported that the two planets, one bigger, the other smaller than Earth must keep up a delicate dance around multiple suns.

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"In contrast to a single planet orbiting a single star, the planet in a circumbinary system must transit a 'moving target.' As a consequence, time intervals between the transits and their durations can vary substantially, sometimes short, other times long," said study author Jerome Orosz, associate professor of astronomy at San Diego State University, reported National Geographic.

"The intervals were the telltale sign these planets are in circumbinary orbits."

The planets don't likely contain the right elements for life, however.

UPI reported that the planets orbit both suns on a journey that takes about 300 days.

The findings were published in the journal Science.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120829/dual-stars-found-multiple-planets-orbiting-them