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Scientists Discover Largest Planet Orbiting 2 Suns to Date

The newfound world, about the size of Jupiter, is 3,700 light-years from Earth

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    Lynette Cook via NASA
    An artist's rendering shows Kepler-1647b, a newly discovered planet that, according to NASA, is the largest planet discovered that orbits two suns.

    Astronomers say they have discovered the largest planet outside the solar system that orbits two suns.

    The newfound world, dubbed Kepler-1647b, is about the size of Jupiter and is 3,700 light-years from Earth. A light-year is nearly 6 trillion miles.

    It was detected by a team led by NASA and San Diego State University using the planet-hunting Kepler telescope. The discovery was announced Monday during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in San Diego.

    Although the planet is in the habitable zone — where water that is crucial to life can be liquid — it's not a good candidate to support life because it's so big, scientists said.

    "It's a bit curious that this biggest planet took so long to confirm since it is easier to find big planets than small ones," San Diego State astronomer Jerome Orosz said in a statement.

    Planets that circle a pair of suns are nicknamed "Tatooine" after the fictional body in the "Star Wars" films that boasts a double sunset.

    In 2011, scientists found the first Tatooine planet — a world about the size of Saturn 200 light-years from Earth.

    NASA launched Kepler in 2009 to search for planets — mainly Earth-like planets — outside the solar system.