Molten exoplanet CoRoT-7b is a good analog for the Star Wars sizzling lava planet Mustafar. While you won't see any lightsaber duels on CoRoT-7b, the planet's temperature of 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,982 Celsius) isn't far off from the fictional magma mining station.Credits: ESO/L. Calcada. › Larger image
Fictional Hoth is a frozen tundra that briefly serves as a base for the hidden Rebel Alliance. It's also the nickname of real exoplanet OGLE-2005-BLG-390, a cold super-Earth whose surface temperature clocks in at minus 364 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 220 Celsius).Credits: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI). › Larger image
Years before science discovered planets orbiting two stars, Star Wars showed Luke Skywalker facing a twin sunset on his home world Tatooine. Now NASA telescopes have found multiple planets orbiting binary star systems, including Kepler-16b.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. › Larger image
Super-Earth Kepler-22b may not hide an army of clones, but it may resemble the grey water-world of Kamino with its own super ocean. While the true composition of Kepler-22b's surface is unknown, an ocean world about the size of Earth could be comfortably habitable. Credits: Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech. › Larger image
Rubble in space can signal either birth or death: the formation of a planetary system or the end of planet. For Alderaan, the Death Star's fatal strike transformed the planet into an asteroid field. In this artist's concept, the swirling disk of debris is part of the formation of a new star system, and plays a key role in the creation of new planets. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. › Larger image
The fantasy creations of the "Star Wars" universe are strikingly similar to real planets in our own Milky Way galaxy. A super Earth in deep freeze? Think ice-planet "Hoth." And that distant world with double sunsets can't help but summon thoughts of sandy "Tatooine."
A more ancient Earth?
City in the sky
Turn up the heat
Breaking up is hard to do
Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.