Luke Skywalker gazes at Tatooine's two suns in Star Wars IV. Photo courtesy of Star Wars

Luke Skywalker gazes at Tatooine’s two suns in Star Wars IV. Photo courtesy of Star Wars

“If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from,” Luke Skywalker said about his home planet, Tatooine, in Star Wars IV — A New Hope.

Tatooine may be far, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be seen. In fact, since astronomers have discovered the first Tatooine-like planet — a planet orbiting two suns — four years ago, nine more have been found. The last circumbinary-planet discovery, Kepler-453 b, was announced this week.

A team of astronomers at the International Astronomical Union meeting in Honolulu — including University of Hawaiʻi astronomer Nader Haghighipour — announced Aug. 14 the discovery of the tenth transiting circumbinary planet, as reported by UH this week.

The team is led by William Welsh, a professor at San Diego State University. The work has been published in the Astrophysical Journal, and the preprint is available.

Artist's impression of the Kepler-453 system showing the newly discovered planet on the right and the eclipsing binary stars on the left. Illustration by Mark Garlick.

Artist’s impression of the Kepler-453 system showing the newly discovered planet on the right and the eclipsing binary stars on the left. Illustration by Mark Garlick.

Reminiscent of the fictional planet Tatooine in Star Wars, circumbinary planets orbit two stars and have two suns in their skies. The new planet, known as Kepler-453 b, takes 240 days to orbit its parent stars.

Kepler-453 b resides in the habitable zone of its host pair of stars, a surprisingly common occurrence for the circumbinary planets discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. But because Kepler-453 b is larger than Neptune, it cannot be habitable.

However, because it is a giant gas planet, it may, like the giant gas planets in our solar system, have large moons, and those moons could be habitable. According to Haghighipour, the orbit of Kepler-453 b will remain stable for tens of millions of years, increasing the possibility of life forming on its moons.

Circumbinary planets form the same way planets form around single stars, but a