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Space Science

Tatooine-like Planet Discovered 403

ATP writes "CNN is reporting that a planet has been discovered in a solar system with 3 suns. The observation brings into doubt the theory stating that planets form from the dust orbiting around a single sun. The discovery also resulted in a new method of searching for extrasolar planets-- until now most searching focused only on single-sun systems."
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Tatooine-like Planet Discovered

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  • Pitch Black (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mesach ( 191869 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @12:43AM (#13070091)
    Might it be more like the planet in Pitch Black instead of Tattoine?
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday July 15, 2005 @12:43AM (#13070095) Homepage Journal
    Imagine if such a planet were habitable (that is, a planet with three suns). Think about how much of our human existence is dictated by the cycles of our single sun. I wonder how different things would be with three suns.

    Would agriculture ever start? Would dwellings all be subterranean? Would concepts of work and play be utterly different? Religions would evolve differently. Would gender roles be affected?

    Does anyone know of a work of science fiction that delves into this, in the way that The Left Hand of Darkness [wikipedia.org] explored gender issues?

  • by bc90021 ( 43730 ) * <bc90021NO@SPAMbc90021.net> on Friday July 15, 2005 @12:56AM (#13070155) Homepage
    Actually, for as much of our culture that's dictated by the sun, a *lot* of it is dictated by the moon. Our calender is based first on the moon (months, a word that may have derived from moonths?), women's cycles are typically ~28 days (the length of the lunar cycle), tides are more heavily influenced by the moon than the sun, and a number of other things I can't think of right now. I'm not denying the sun's influence by any means - obviously, without it's warmth and light there'd be just about nothing on this planet. But don't understimate the moon, which is as important, if not moreso.

  • Tatooine? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vanyel ( 28049 ) * on Friday July 15, 2005 @01:04AM (#13070196) Journal
    To me, Tatooine-like would be "that earthish desert planet", not "that gas giant with 3 suns"...
  • False Advertising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aykroyd ( 82171 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @01:28AM (#13070317)
    "Tatooine-like Planet Discovered," I read. Eagerly, I clicked the link. "They've found a way to tell just what the planet is like! Now that is news!"

    Oh, but wait... It's actually a story about a planet that was discovered in a solar system with three stars. What in the hell does that have to do with making the planet "Tatooine-like"? That's like calling every other planet in our system "Earth-like".

  • Solid Science (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kamiza Ikioi ( 893310 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @01:32AM (#13070341)
    I think science does demand healthy sckepticism, however, you are making some comparisons that don't quite match up.

    For instance, detecting planets within our own solar system is far different than detecting one many lightyears away. In our solar system, all you really need is a good earth based telescope and a little luck. To detect extrasolar planets, one must observe things like star wobble. IANAA, but considering that we've not even photographed the entire sky using orbit based long range cameras (so I've heard), the chances of an actual photo of a planet is extremely remote, even knowing where one is, because of brightness issues.

    I've often thought that it is equivilant to trying to see a moth flying around a lone streetlight 2 miles away with the naked eye. Unless the moth is extremely large, and far enough away from the light itself, you'll never see it. Though, you may see the light wavering as the moth flies around the light. Thus, you can know that something is flying around it, but not actually make out what it is.

    On one hand, you state that we're in for disappointment and that the likelihood of a real direct observation is small. I agree 100%. But, that the evidence is thin, I would disagree. Gravitational pull (and wavelength shifts) on a star, while certainly not concrete evidence, has been used long before other planets were reported discovered. The foundations of the theories are solid, in as far as using credible contemporary science.

    Now, if they found these planets using Seti, claiming to have uncovered a prime number sequence transmittion encoded with a 3d schematic of a machine who's purpose is unknown, but looks like possibly a gyroscope... I'd say they've been watching too many Jodie Foster movies.
  • by Tatarize ( 682683 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:58AM (#13071168) Homepage
    Oh, you note that Tatooine has two suns and not three but you miss the fact that Tatooine is not a hot Jupiter type planet. Hard for Jabba the Hutt's band to play when the planet is so massive the gravity would crush them, and if that fails it's still a few thousand degrees Kelvin.
  • Rogue planets (Score:2, Insightful)

    by term8or ( 576787 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:46AM (#13071327)
    observation brings into doubt the theory stating that planets form from the dust orbiting around a single sun.

    The observation doesn't necessarily call into question this theory - there has long been a theory that rogue planets (i.e. planets that have either been knocked from their own solar system or where their star has exploded) can be taken into the gravity of star(s) that it wasn't formed around.

    What does call the theory into question is the paucity of information on extra solar planetary formation. Simply, we don't have enough data to start making convincing general principles of planetary construction.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.