Direct from 'Star Wars': Tatooine-like planet that orbits twin stars discovered

Direct from 'Star Wars': Tatooine-like planet that orbits twin stars discovered

NASA's TESS space telescope used the same data in 2020 and discover a circumbinary planet, called TOI-1338b.

A portion of Star Wars, an American epic space opera, appears to have become a reality after the discovery of the new planet TOI-1338 c (also known as BEBOP-1 c) — the second-ever known planetary system orbiting twin stars. Only two worlds are known in the TOI-1338/BEBOP-1 circumbinary system so far. 

It is much similar to Tatooine, Luke Skywalker's fictional home world, a sparsely inhabited circumbinary desert planet located in the galaxy's Outer Rim Territories featured in Star Wars

According to experts, TOI-1338 c is a gas giant and it is approximately 65 times the mass of Earth. It takes around 215 days to orbit its sun. 

BEBOP-1c has been named after the project that collected the data, as BEBOP stands for Binaries Escorted By Orbiting Planets. Researchers at the University of Birmingham led the study, which has been published in the journal Nature Astronomy

Experts said in the paper, "We report the detection of a gas-giant planet in orbit around both stars of an eclipsing binary star system. The system discussed in this paper is only the second system known to host multiple planets." For the unversed, a binary star is a system of two stars that are gravitationally bound to and in orbit around each other. 

Matthew Standing, who is the study's lead author, told Space.com, "Circumbinary planets were originally thought not to exist, since the binary stars stir up the planet-forming disks, creating a harsh environment for planets to form." 

Dr Standing, who is an astrophysicist at the Open University in England, said, "This all changed with the discovery of Kepler-16b in 2011 by the Kepler space telescope. This discovery showed that it must be possible for these planets to form." 

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NASA's TESS space telescope used the same data in 2020 and discover a circumbinary planet, called TOI-1338b. Reports have mentioned that planet was discovered with the transit method. As quoted by Science Daily, Dr Standing said that "the transit method permitted us to measure the size of TOI-1338b, but not its mass which is the planet's most fundamental parameter". 

Details of the reports noted that the BEBOP team was already monitoring this system using another detection method at the time, called the Doppler method, which is also called the wobble method, or radial-velocity method. It is relied on for accurately measuring the velocity of stars. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that this newly-found planet, TOI-1338 c, is a gas giant, meanwhile, TOI-1338 b is a "Neptune-like ice giant". 

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