Insight & Analysis

Fact better than fiction: NASA discovery beats Star Wars for most stars

Published: Oct 2019

NASA’s Planet Quest’s Twitter account recently bragged that they’d one-upped Star Wars for planetary discoveries. You know, Star Wars? The fictional film series with no factual basis for its planets and universe?

Starfield in space

The discovery of a planet with not one, not two, but three stars puts Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine to shame, with their measly two. So, what is this new planet called you ask? TaTHREEine? No. Something much catchier: LTT 1445Ab. It rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?

LTT 1445Ab is officially classified as an exoplanet, meaning it’s a planet that orbits a star outside of our solar system. Its three stars are actually Red Dwarf stars, so they’re cooler and burn for longer than yellow stars like our sun. Alongside all of this is the fact that it’s been discovered to be a rocky planet, instead of a gaseous or icy one! For comparison, the earth is a rocky planet, as is Mars, meaning we can walk, run, and jump around on the ground, as opposed to Jupiter and Saturn which are gas planets that can’t be landed on with a rocket, and Neptune which has temperatures that plummet to below -200°C.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite (TESS) was responsible for the discovery, and when the Hubble telescope successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, can get a good look at it the planet could hold a lot of important answers about what we could expect to find on other such planets: aliens? Or just an interesting atmospheric make up?

So, when can we go and visit this new exoplanet? Likely, never. It’s only a short 22 light-years away, but the surface temperature averages at about 155°C, so even for sun lovers it’s probably a tad too warm.

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