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Twin Star Planets

January 31, 2012

Planets with two stars could have wild climates.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Two suns, one planet…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Imagine looking up at the sky and seeing two suns. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered three planets circling twin star systems so far, and astronomers now believe they may be more common than previously thought. Two of the planets, called Kepler-34 and 35, are gas giants with about the mass of Saturn. They’re probably too hot to harbor life, according to San Diego State University astronomer Jerry Orosz. Plus, their stars’ wide elliptical orbits would cause extreme climate variations.

JERRY OROSZ (San Diego State University):

And so your seasons would be very very strange indeed, because every couple months it would be very very warm, and between that it would be very very cold, so it’s very interesting to imagine what life would be like on these planets.

HIRSHON:

But he says many yet undiscovered planets might have better odds of life.

OROSZ:

If you want to have a double sun and have a fairly normal climate, what you would have to have a is a pair of stars that orbited much closer to each other.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.