MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Astronomers say planets with two suns, like the fictional Tatooine in the "Star Wars" films, do exist and the first one has been identified and named.
Scientists at NASA and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute are informally calling the so-called circumbinary planet Tatooine in homage to the planet imagined by George Lucas, although its official designation -- Kepler-16b -- is a bit less exciting, CNN reported Friday.
Researchers led by SETI's Laurance Doyle used NASA's orbiting Kepler telescope to detect the shadow of the planet as it crossed in front of its two suns about 200 light years from Earth.
"When we first discovered it … I sent around a message, 'Hey, you know guys, we should ask George Lucas if we can nickname this guy Tatooine,'" Doyle said. "Suddenly and unexpectedly after years of looking for a circumbinary planet -- we got a beauty."
The planet's two suns go around each other every 41 days, while Kepler-16b's "year" -- the time it takes to complete an orbit around its double suns -- is 229 days.
However, the new "Tatooine" probably isn't home to Luke Skywalker or any other life form, Doyle said, adding he doubts it could support life as we know it due to its size and distance from its suns.