Part of the joy of science fiction is getting to experience, at least in a vicarious way, a variety of worlds, planets, and universes that don’t exist in reality. Submerging ourselves in such new realms is always good for a laugh, but in many cases, especially when the world resembles our own, most of us wonder just how possible they are. Odds are, if you’re of a particular generation, you’ve spent a fair amount of time pretending to have lightsaber battles on one of the many planets from Star Wars. You’re not the only one, far from it, and you’re not the to explore the question of just how feasible it is that a planet like, say Tatooine, with its multiple suns, actually exists out there in space.
This video from Universe Today examines this question in greater depth. Tatooine is far from the only fictional world that has multiple suns, and there is a great deal of scientific knowledge to back this up.
For instance, there are what are called circum-binary systems. These are systems that have two stars at the center. In this arrangement he bodies are close enough together that they only produce a single gravitational field. For all intents and purposes, this celestial duo functions as a single star. There may be two suns in the sky, but from a physics perspective, they’re one and the same. So far astronomers have identified at least 17 with this particular set up.
You also have wide binary systems, which are much more hazardous, at least from a planet’s point of view. In this arrangement, there is one star with planets orbiting around it. There is also a more remote star, and this one wreaks all sorts of havoc. Creating a chaotic interplay of gravitational fields, planets can crash into each other, or even be ejected from the system all together.
Beyond these few examples, there are multiple other potential set ups as well, including triple and quadruple systems. And those are just the ones that astronomers have discovered. You can bet your ass that there more, and when you get into these, gravity has to be all kinds of bananas.
So it is indeed possible for a multi-sunned world, like Tatooine, to exist somewhere out there in the vastness of space. That part of the planet could exist, whether or not it has a breathable atmosphere, can support life, and is a desert wasteland inhabited by Jawas, Hutt warlords, and retired Jedi Knights, however, is another thing entirely.
We recently learned the Star Wars: Episode VII will be returning to Tatooine, at least in part. The production is reportedly working on an “extensive re-creation” of the original set it desert, “Morocco like” setting. Given the extent of the construction, it’s easy to imagine that either a large portion of the action takes place on the desert wasteland, or at least a significant scene. That makes sense, the home world of Luke and Anakin Skywalker has always figured prominently into the greater Star Wars mythology.