Washington: US astronomers said on Thursday they have discovered the first planet that is orbiting two Suns, much like the fictional home of Luke Skywalker featured in Star Wars.

Skywalker's native planet of Tatooine was hot and desert-like, but this planet, called Kepler-16b, is a freezing cold world about the size of Saturn, orbiting two parent Suns in a near perfect circle about 200 light years away.

The planet was glimpsed with the US space agency's Kepler space telescope, which monitors the brightness of 155,000 stars, according to the research published in the journal Science.

"This discovery is stunning," said co-author Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.

"Once again, what used to be science fiction has turned into reality."
 
While astronomers have previously glimpsed planets they believed were orbiting two stars, they had never before seen one actually passing in front of its two suns so this discovery offers the first proof.

"Kepler-16b is the first confirmed, unambiguous example of a circumbinary planet -- a planet orbiting not one, but two stars," said co-author Josh Carter of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"Once again, we're finding that our solar system is only one example of the variety of planetary systems nature can create."

(Agencies)