NASA's Kepler discovers 'Tatooine' planet orbiting two suns

Story highlights

  • Exoplanet Kepler-1647 is the largest planet to be discovered that orbits two suns
  • Planets that orbit two suns are called circumbinary

(CNN)Although we will never watch two suns rise and fall from the perspective of our own planet, like Luke Skywalker on Tatooine in the iconic scene from "Star Wars: A New Hope," there's a newly discovered planet where aliens might do so. Scientists have confirmed (PDF) that an exoplanet named Kepler-1647b is the largest discovered that orbits two suns. Exoplanets are those that orbit a star outside our solar system.

Though the exoplanet is about the same age as Earth -- 4.4 billion years old -- it's 3,700 light-years away and has mass, radius and gas composition comparable to those of Jupiter (or of Bespin, home of Cloud City in "Empire Strikes Back," if we're sticking with the "Star Wars" comparison). The stars it orbits are similar to our own sun, though one is slightly larger than the other.
    It takes Kepler-1647b 1,107 days to fully orbit its stars.