The Hindu Business Line

Milky Way planets stranger than Star Wars’ alien worlds , say NASA scientists

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Some of the planets discovered around stars in our own galaxy, Milky Way, may be very similar to the Star Wars exoplanet Tatooine, watery Scarif and even frozen Hoth, according to NASA scientists.

Sifting through data on the more than 3,400 confirmed alien worlds, scientists applied sophistica­ted computer modelling techniques to tease out the colours, light, sunrise and sunsets we might encounter if we could pay them a visit.

A real planet in our galaxy reminded scientists so much of Luke Skywalker’s home planet, they named it “Tatooine.” Officially called Kepler-16b, the Saturn-sized planet is about 200 lightyears away, in the constellat­ion Cygnus. The reality of its two suns was so startling, George Lucas himself agreed to the astronomer­s’ nickname for the planet.

A person on Kepler-16b would have two shadows. In a storm, two rainbows would appear. Each sunset would be unique, because the stars are always changing their configurat­ion.

There is a world named Hoth in our galaxy — an icy superEarth discovered in 2006. It reminded scientists so much of the frozen Rebel base they unofficial­ly nicknamed it after the planet that appears in The Empire Strikes Back.

The planet’s scientific designatio­n is OGLE 2005-BLG-390L, after the Optical Gravitatio­nal Lensing Experiment (OGLE) that found it.

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