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Hank tells us about NASAs discovery of the 1st planet ever discovered to be orbiting a binary star.

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What is the Higgs-Boson? -
Tardigrades -
Hank Green: So have you ever seen the movie Star Wars? (Laughs) That was a joke.


So, you know that part in Star Wars when Luke and his uncle get into a big fight, and then Luke trudges up a little dirt pile outside of his family's little hut and gazes wistfully across the moisture farm into the double sunset of Tatooine? Well if you lived on the planet Kepler-16b, you could totally do that!

So these astronomers are in a pickle. They found this awesome planet about the size of Saturn about 200 light-years away, that's orbiting a binary star system, just like Luke friggin' Skywalker's Tatooine. And I should note that this is the first planet orbiting a binary star system that anyone has ever found, ever.

But we want someone to live there so bad!

So we've been finding a lot of planets lately because of this new mission called Kepler, which basically very sensitively measures the light output from stars. And when a planet passes over a star, it actually blocks some of the light from the star and the star dims a little bit.

By measuring these stars for years and years of time, they can actually figure out when planets are crossing over at regular intervals. So Kepler-16b, because it's crossing over two different stars because it's part of a binary star system, allowed astronomers to take even more precise measurements of the planet, than they could if it was just passing across one, making it the most well-observed planet outside of our solar system.

But the facts remain: it's probably too cold for life to live there, and its surface is probably made up of gassy-liquid sludge. So nobody's walking up any dirt piles outside of their moisture farm.

But - and, oh, the sweet sound of that but - some astronomers think that Kepler-16b might have a moon. And if it does have a moon, it could possibly be a mix of rock and water like some of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

And, if that moon exists, it would experience seasons, just like our planet.

Well, not just like our planet. In the winter it would be about -275° F, and in the summer it would be around 68. That's not really an ideal situation for life.

But, scientists have hypothesized that seasons are actually really good at stirring things up chemically on the surface of planets. And good, good stirrings of chemistry is basically how life happens.

Though -275° F in the winter is a little cold... Kind of a bad temperature for life, but I've previously discussed on this channel a couple of organisms that might be able to handle that.

So Star Wars fans, don't lose hope. Astrobiologists think that there could be some sort of organism right now on a rocky hillock, staring into the double sunset. But they should probably go inside, because it's about to get very, very cold.

If you want to know more about Kepler-16b, there are some links in the description below. And if you want to ask us questions or have suggest stories, you can hit us up on Twitter or Facebook, and down in the comments below.


Off-camera: Isn't it pronounced Dantooine?

Hank: No, dude. Yeah, it's... Dantooine is a totally different planet. It's like a jungle, swampy planet where there's a Rebel Base. Tatooine's like, like, like a desert planet. You know, you know nothing about Sta... We shou... We're going to go watch Star Wars right now. You're coming with me.