Yale study suggests Tatooine is more livable

Yale study suggests Tatooine is more livable

A Yale University study has found that planets in binary star systems, similar to Tatooine in the “Star Wars” movie, are more likely to be climate friendly because of their orderly alignment. This result, which indicates a higher probability of life, comes from an analysis of 40 systems, revealing that almost a quarter of them have perfect alignment.

Luke Skywalker's childhood might have been a bit less harsh had he grown up on a more temperate region of Tatooine — like the one identified in a new Yale-led study.

According to the study's authors, there are more climate-friendly planets in binary star systems, that is, those with two suns, than previously thought. They say this could be a sign that the universe, at least in some ways, is leaning in the direction of orderly alignment rather than chaotic drift.

For the study, the researchers looked at planets from binary star systems, systems in which individual planets orbit a host star, with a second star nearby, orbiting the entire system. (The fictional desert planet Tatooine, from the “Star Wars” films, is located in a binary star system.)

“We have shown, for the first time, that there is an unexpected set of systems where everything is parallel,” said Malena Rice, assistant professor of astronomy at Yale College of Arts and Sciences and lead author of the new study. Which was published on February 22 Astronomical magazine. “The planets revolve in exactly the same direction as the first star, and the second star revolves around this system on the same plane as the planets.”

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Methodology and results

The Rice team used a variety of sources, including the Gaia DR3 catalog of high-resolution stellar astronomical measurements, and NASA Exoplanet Archive table of composite parameters for planetary systems and TEPCat catalogue Exoplanet Rotation angle measurements, to create 3D geometries of planets in binary star systems.

The researchers found that nine of the 40 systems studied had “perfect” alignment.

“This may indicate that planetary systems want to move toward an orderly configuration,” Rice said. “This is also good news for the life that forms in these systems. Differently aligned star companions can wreak havoc on planetary systems, destroying them, or heating up planets over time.”

Life on the temperate zone of Tatooine

What would the world be like on a more temperate Tatooine?

In certain seasons of the year, the day is continuous, with one star illuminating one side of the planet, while the other star illuminates the other half of the planet. But this sunlight will not always be as hot, because one of the stars will be too far away.

At other times of the year, both suns light the same side of the planet, with one appearing much larger than the other.

Rice gave a presentation on the study in March at the Extreme Solar Systems conference in New Zealand.

Study co-authors are Konstantin Gerbig, PhD, at Yale University. student in astrophysics and Andrew Vanderberg, assistant professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The research was partly funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation and the 51 Pegasi b Fellowship Programme.

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