Source
Scholastic News Online

Scholastic News Online is a free resource with breaking news and highlights from the print magazine.

Available for grades 1-6, Scholastic News magazine brings high-interest current events and nonfiction to millions of classrooms each week.

Additionally, our subscribers have FREE access to Scholastic News Interactive, an exclusive online learning tool featuring digital editions, videos, interactive features, differentiated articles, and much more.


The planet Kepler-16b orbits two stars, giving it two sunrises and two sunsets. (NASA / JPL-Caltech / T. Pyle)

A Planet With Two Suns

Astronomers discover a solar system that’s straight out of science fiction

By Sara Goudarzi | null null , null
<p>Kepler-16b is roughly the size of Saturn while its two suns are smaller than our own sun. <br />(NASA / JPL-Caltech / R. Hurt)<br /></p>

Kepler-16b is roughly the size of Saturn while its two suns are smaller than our own sun.
(NASA / JPL-Caltech / R. Hurt)

Astronomers have discovered a planet with two suns, much like Luke Skywalker’s fictional home in Star Wars.

Earlier this month, NASA announced that the Kepler space telescope has uncovered a distant planet, dubbed Kepler-16b, circling two stars like our sun. This means that the planet has two sunrises and two sunsets.

But unlike Luke Skywalker’s Tatooine, the cold and inhospitable Kepler-16b doesn’t support life.

THE DISCOVERY

In March 2009, NASA launched Kepler into outer space to search for Earth-like planets in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The spacecraft has been orbiting, or circling, the sun. As it orbits, it measures the brightness of about 155,000 stars and monitors any planets that pass in front of them.

Astronomers learned of the two stars, called a binary star system, when the stars eclipsed, or blocked, each other from Kepler’s perspective. An eclipse occurs when a large body moves in front of another and blocks the light that ordinarily reaches the observer.

Scientists also noticed that at times both stars appeared dim—even when one was not in front of the other. This meant that a third object was circling both stars.

More measurements showed that the third object is a planet. Scientists believe that Kepler-16b is as massive as Saturn, and that the stars it orbits are smaller than our sun.

“This discovery is stunning,” says Alan Boss, a researcher involved with the finding. “Once again, what used to be science fiction has turned into reality.”

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Rookie Read-About® Science—Space Science: So That's How the Moon Changes Shape!

    Rookie Read-About® Science—Space Science: So That's How the Moon Changes Shape!

    by Allan Fowler

    Rookie Read-About® Science brings a broad array of topics to vibrant life with striking, full-color photos and just the right amount of fun, factual, fascinating text.

    $3.71 You save: 25%
    Paperback Book | Grade 2
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Rookie Read-About® Science—Space Science: So That's How the Moon Changes Shape!
    Grade 2 $3.71
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Scholastic Science Readers™ Level 3: Solar System

    Scholastic Science Readers™ Level 3: Solar System

    by Gregory L. Vogt

    Learn what the sun is made of, and how the sun's gravity makes the planets orbit around it. Find out how far each planet is from the sun, how many moons each planet has, and what the planets look like up-close!

    Why study the solar system? Space exploration could explain the history of the universe. It may also reveal whether there is other life out there!

    Features full-color, up-close photographs of the planets in the Earth's solar system.

    A simple explanation of the sun, moon, and the nine planets, with additional facts about asteroids and space exploration.

    $5.95 You save: 25%
    Paperback Book | Grades 2-3
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Scholastic Science Readers™ Level 3: Solar System
    Grades 2-3 $5.95
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S EMAIL ADDRESS

MESSAGE
Here's something interesting from Scholastic.com