“Planet Hunter” TESS Discovers Real-World ‘Tatooin’

Imagine a world with two suns, just like Tatooine, the home of the fictional Skywalker family in Star Wars: a planet orbiting a two-star system, according tomedia CNET. However, the planet is in the right direction, so you can see a “solar eclipse” every 15 days. NASA’s latest “planetary hunter” Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has just discovered exoplanets with these features, although it is unlikely to be a clone of Tatooine – a dry, sandy and rocky world.

The planet, known as TOI 1338 b, was the first planet discovered by TESS to orbit a binary system. It is about seven times the mass of Earth, bringing it closer to Saturn’s size, and is more likely to be an uninhabitable gas giant.

The planet was discovered with the help of Wolf Cukier, who interned last summer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to help examine strange stars in TESS data.

“About three days after the internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338,” Cukier said in a statement on Monday. At first, I thought it was a stareclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet. ” 

The two stars that make up the TOI 1338 system can be found in the Pictor constellation, which is shaped like an easel, about 1,300 light-years from us. Two stars orbit every 15 days, and because the only known exoplanet in the system is arranged on the same plane as two stars, it experiences a “solar eclipse” every time the stars pass over each other.

Binary systems are relatively common in the Milky Way, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the first planet orbiting the binary system was seen. Most of the planets found in the binary system are gas giants, but recent research suggests that more Earth-like rocky planets around binary stars may be good candidates for extraterrestrial life.