Is your favorite Star Wars planet a desert world or an ice planet or a jungle moon?
It’s possible that your favorite planet exists right here in our galaxy. Astronomers have found over 3,400 planets around other stars, called “exoplanets.”
Some of these alien worlds could be very similar to arid Tatooine, watery Scarif and even frozen Hoth, according to NASA scientists.
Find out if your planet exists in a galaxy far, far away or all around you. And May the Fourth be with you!
Planets With Two Suns
From Luke Skywalker’s home world Tatooine, you can stand in the orange glow of a double sunset. The same could said for Kepler-16b, a cold gas giant roughly the size of Saturn, that orbits two stars. Kepler-16b was the Kepler telescopes’s first discovery of a planet in a “circumbinary” orbit (that is, circling both stars, as opposed to just one, in a double star system).
The best part is that Tatooine aka Kepler-16b was just the first. It has family. A LOT of family. Half the stars in our galaxy are pairs, rather than single stars like our sun. If every star has at least one planet, that’s billions of worlds with two suns. Billions! Maybe waiting for life to be found on them.
Mars is a cold desert planet in our solar system, and we have plenty of examples of scorching hot planets in our galaxy (like Kepler-10b), which orbits its star in less than a day)! Scientists think that if there are other habitable planets in the galaxy, they’re more likely to be desert planets than ocean worlds. That’s because ocean worlds freeze when they’re too far from their star, or boil off their water if they’re too close, potentially making them unlivable. Perhaps, it’s not so weird that both Luke Skywalker and Rey grew up on planets that look a lot alike.
An icy super-Earth named OGLE-200-BLG-390Lb reminded scientists so much of the frozen Rebel base they nicknamed it “Hoth,” after its frozen temperature of minus 364 degrees Fahrenheit. Another Hoth-like planet was discovered last month; an Earth-mass icy world orbiting its star at the same distance as Earth orbits the sun. But its star is so faint, the surface of OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb is probably colder than Pluto.
Both the forest moon of Endor and Takodana, the home of Han Solo’s favorite cantina in “Force Awakens,” are green like our home planet. But astrobiologists think that plant life on other worlds could be red, black, or even rainbow-colored!
In February 2017, the Spitzer Space Telescope discovered seven Earth-sized planets in the same system, orbiting the tiny red star TRAPPIST-1.
The light from a red star, also known as an M dwarf, is dim and mostly in the infrared spectrum (as opposed to the visible spectrum we see with our sun). And that could mean plants with wildly different colors than what we’re used to seeing on Earth. Or, it could mean animals that see in the near-infrared.
What About Moons?
In Star Wars, Endor, the planet with the cute Ewoks, is actually a habitable moon of a gas giant. Now, we’re looking for life on the moons of our own gas giants. Saturn’s moon Enceladus or Jupiter’s moon Europa are ocean worlds that may well support life. Our Cassini spacecraft has explored the Saturn system and its moons. Watch the video and learn more about the missions’s findings.
The next few years will see the launch of a new generation of spacecraft to search for planets around other stars. TESS and the James Webb Telescope are slated to launch in 2018, and WFIRST in the mid-2020s. That’s one step closer to finding life.
You might want to take our ‘Star Wars: Fact or Fiction?’ quiz. Try it! Based on your score you may obtain the title of Padawan, Jedi Knight, or even Jedi Master!
You don’t need to visit a galaxy far, far away to find wondrous worlds. Just visit this one … there’s plenty to see.
My contribution to the humans are space orcs, it’s probably been seen before but oh well.
So, You guys know about pursuit/persistence hunting right? Where we just follow the prey without stopping until it slows down or drops dead from fear and exhaustion?
What if when aliens first discover earth, the thoughts of these bipedal predatory omnivores are bad enough but we seem pretty obsessed with farming our food so maybe we aren’t much of a threat.
Once humans are zipping about in space, that’s when they realise that these harmless bipedal omnivorous farmers are actually hunters who just never give up.
If someone hurts their crew, they just follow it for days before killing it. These soft fleshy things are terrifying. These soft fleshy things may not be the strongest or fastest but we are some of the hardest damn things to kill because we just won’t die and if we survive we won’t stop until we get you.
We farm things because we can and because it’s easy. Not because we have to in order to survive.
We farm things because we’re too busy fighting each other to hunt for everything.
We stake out areas, we mimic its noises, we stalk it, we put ourselves in danger to kill a food source for fun.
When Earth discovers FTL travel, the world never unifies into one government. When new species make contact, they are surprised to learn that the twenty strongest empires in the galaxy have their capitals on the same planet.
You’ve lived an average life. When you die, you are somewhat surprised to discover life on Earth is broadcast in heaven as a popular reality TV show. You are yet more surprised to be greeted by hoards of adoring fans.
Fattening Up: Earth Is Space Australia/Humans Are Weird
I just had lunch, and was considering having a cookie or three, and the thought occurred–what if other species didn’t have a built-in nutrition-storage system? Suppose their bodies have just so much of a reserve of energy, and if they don’t have food stockpiled when lean times arrive, well…
Then they discover Earth, and the concept of “fat”. An automatic system that in times of plenty, stockpiles fuel right inside the body, placing it in predesignated locations. And not only is it a hedge against lean times, the “fat” provides padding, insulation, AND it’s a natural flotation aid! What miraculous stuff! What an ingenious system! What an elegant solution to the threat of starvation posed by the Death World’s constant environmental fluctuations!
Then the aliens learn about the Western world’s obsessions and phobias and general social neuroses about fat. No matter how hard they try, they can’t make sense of it. To them, the fat-storage system is a miracle of biology. Yet another wonderfully bizarre element of life on Earth. Which is a planet that seems to go out of its way to find creative ways to kill its inhabitants. Earth is home to the Geology of Mass Destruction, the Climates That Want You Dead, the Diseases From Hell, and All the Murder Beasts. Yet instead of addressing any of those threats, humans decide to devote massive amounts of time, money, and the efforts of thousands of our brilliant, creative, fantastically adaptable minds to…defeating one of our own survival mechanisms.
I need to get away from here for a while. I need to get away from being local because I need to explore and branch out. Home will always be home, but there’s a big world to see and I don’t know very much about what’s out there. I need to get away from those who hurt me because I feel it weighing down on my heart. I long for people who don’t long for me, but if I long for adventure it will at least long for me back because it loves being discovered and it loves anyone who gives it a chance.