Scientists spot another planet straight out of 'Star Wars'

Researchers believe they've found the first rocky, Earth-like exoplanet to orbit a distant binary star system. That's good news for the search for habitable worlds, not to mention real-life analogs to the "Star Wars" universe.

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Could this be the real universe's Skywalker system? NASA

The barrage of exoplanet discoveries we've seen in recent years has begun to point us toward greater understanding our place in the universe, but more importantly, they've made the worlds of the "Star Wars" universe seem a little more science and a little less fiction.

Scientists' latest find is what looks to be the first rocky planet to orbit a binary star system, just like the home planet of the Skywalkers, Tatooine. The real-life analog was spotted thanks to the efforts of a global team and a complicated technique called gravitational microlensing. Less impressive is the initial name given to the planet, OGLE-2013-BLG-0341LBb -- next time you're 3,000 light years from home in its direction, look it up.

This latest discovery, published Friday in the journal Science, comes just a few months after astronomers announced the existence of Kepler-186f, which could be a chillier cousin to Earth not unlike the planet of Hoth, site of an epic battle with AT-AT Walkers in "The Empire Strikes Back."

Unfortunately, OGLE-2013-BLG-0341LBb is more likely to have a climate closer to an even more frigid Hoth than the desert environment of Tatooine. In fact, the researchers say it's not likely to be anywhere near warm enough to be habitable, but it is much closer than the only other things found around binary star systems so far, which were uber-gas giant-looking objects with absolutely no good spots to build a hidden rebel base.

Hopefully, whenever we do finally find Tatooine's real-world cousin, there's no moon-sized objects with strange heat signatures emanating from it nearby. That reminds me, shouldn't we be hard at work searching for an Alderaan cousin before it's too late?

 

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