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Earth-like planets with two suns may exist

Earth-like planets with two suns, like Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine in the "Star Wars" films, may be common in the Milky Way galaxy.

Scientists have discovered Jupiter-scale gas giants orbiting binary stars and have figured out that such gas giants are expected to be as common in binary systems as they are in systems with a single star.

According to two astrophysicists, there could be as many as rocky planets orbiting single-star systems.

As per the conventional wisdom the binary-star systems cannot host Earth-scale rocky planets. However, Scott Kenyon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass said creating rocky planets in a binary system is not only probable, it's "not even that hard."

According to Dr. Kenyon, "If that's true, then Earth-like planets around binaries are just as common as Earth-like planets around single stars."

The astrophysicist added, "If they're not common, that tells you something about how they form or how they interact with the star over billions of years."

The study grew out of work which was undertaken by the two researchers who were trying to estimate how the dwarf planet Pluto and its biggest moon Charon succeed in sharing space with four smaller moons that orbit the two bigger objects.

The researchers identified that the binary stars hosting planets are basically scaled-up versions of the Pluto-Charon system. So they used their calculations to an imaginary binary star system with a circumstellar disk of debris and dust.

Kenyon said, the modest pushing in these orbits is the same modest jostling one would get around a single star.

The researchers said that as for the Jupiter- or Neptune-scale planets, which are found around binary stars, they would have been made farther out and migrated in over time.

The calculations of the two researchers suggest that as more planets are found orbiting binary stars, an increasing number of Tatooines will be among them.

Dr. Kenyon performed the calculations with University of Utah astrophysicist Benjamin Bromley.