If you have seen Star Wars Episode IV, you probably remember that famous scene when Luke considers his options after Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are found dead. Atmospheric music by John Williams plays in the background and at the distance we see two suns over the horizon of the planet Tatooine.
But that is certainly not the only appearance of a double-star system with planets in science fiction. What about Gallifrey, the home planet of the Time Lord, Dr Who; or Magrathea, the luxury-planet factory in Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy? Indeed interesting, but not as interesting as the prospect of a real pair of stars with their own planetary system, right? Well, recently scientists have reported the discovery of two planets orbiting a binary system as spotted by the Kepler space telescope.
So, how do we call this system? Well, it has the inspired name of Kepler-47, and it is located in the constellation of Cygnus some 5,000 light-years away. One of the plants is said to be slightly larger than Uranus and has the name of Kepler-47c, while the other one is about a third of the size of our own Earth and its name is Kepler-47b. As for the stars, one is very Sun-like and the other about a third of its partner.
Kepler-47b, the inner planet, is particularly interesting as it is in the habitable zone (or Goldilocks zone) of the system, in other words, it is located in the region where it is neither too cold nor too hot for liquid water to exist on the surface of the planet and thus the possibility of life in the planet is higher. Whether that is Time Lords, planet-making factory workers or rebels, it certainly is not known…