By some estimates, there are 700 quintillion terrestrial planets in the universe. So, naturally, a few art imitates astronomy lookalikes must have shown up in the Star Wars movies, right? Yes. Though the number remains low because exoplanet research is in its infancy and Luke is weirdly obsessed with Dagobah.
There are, let’s be specific, exactly eight exoplanets that have a Star Wars analogue. (Fingers crossed that NASAs big Kepler announcement Tuesday will only serve to reveal a crap ton of other Star Wars planets turned IRL planets.)
Coruscant = Kepler-452b
In the Star Wars universe, Coruscant is basically the capital of the galaxy — a planet drenched in a high-tech urban landscape that spans the entire surface. It is, for all intents and purposes, a representation of human civilization with unbounded technology and futurism.
While we obviously don’t have a planet that as of yet looks like Coruscant, we have the planet that we (or another intelligent civilization?) could one day turn into Coruscant. Meet Kepler-452b, an exoplanet that many in the scientific world have started labeling as Earth’s older cousin. It orbits a star similar to our sun, though older by about 1.5 billion years; and is about 60 percent larger than our planet as well. And let’s not forget Coruscant itself is a climate engineered world — so if we had the technology, it would not be totally out of the realm of possibility to turn Kepler-452b into an Earthlike twin — or perhaps take things a step further and make Coruscant itself a reality.
Mustafar = CoRoT-7B
You might remember Mustafar from Revenge of the Sith, where Anakin and Obi Wan have their penultimate duel in the series amidst a raging lava field that’s ablaze in fire and brimstone. In the movies, Mustafar is a world caked in valuable minerals and ripe for mining operations.
NASA’s found something a bit similar in CoRoT-7B, a scorching exoplanet with a 3,600 degree Fahrenheit surface, located 480 light-years away, and coming in at about five times the mass of the Earth. It’s thought to be a boiled-down remnant of a gaseous Saturn-like planet, with an orbit close enough to its star that there’s never a cool moment. Obviously it’s too hot for any human to ever set foot on the surface or even get close, but if you wanted the same kind of scenery as Mustafar, look no further.
Tatooine = Kepler-16b
Anakin and Luke Skywalker grew up on a planet with two suns. Two! And besides that, the entire globe was desert wasteland with scant forms of wildlife around.
Kepler-16b seems to fit that same mold. It’s part of a double star system, so the sunsets from the surface would probably look quite similar. On the other hand, the planet is too far out from the stars’ habitable zones to be warm enough for habitability, and the size of the planet itself swells up to the size of Saturn. It’s a mixed bag of gas and rock, so it’s not entirely clear how people might actually live on the planet, but hey, two suns!
Hoth = OGLE-2005-BLG-390
Though its name is a pain in the ass to say — let alone type out — OGLE-2005-BLG-390 is pretty much a planet made of frozen tundra. The surface of this super-Earth comes out to minus 364 degrees Fahrenheit, locking in the whole planet into a deep freeze. Scientists think it might be a failed Jupiter that veered off to the cold side.
Could this be a perfect hideout for a rebellion?
Kamino = Kepler-22b
Another lesser-known world from the movies, Kamino was the birthplace of the clone army. It’s basically Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, but takes place in Attack of the Clones. (Both moves are equally bad, perhaps not so coincidentally. Remember the water temple in Ocarina of Time? Fuck that shit.)
Kepler-22b, about 2.4 times the size of Earth’s radius, is not confirmed as an ocean-covered planet yet, and it might actually be a gaseous world, but there’s some evidence to suggest it might be very similar to Kamino from the movies (though perhaps without the 24/7 thunderstorms).
Bespin = Various Gas Giants
In The Empire Strikes Back, we’re introduced to Cloud City, which hovers over the gas giant Bespin, mining its atmospheric resources. If we ever come to situation where we need to start extracting great loads of helium or hydrogen out of another planet, we’ll want to find a gas giant like Bespin.
And there are plenty of candidates to pick from. A lot of exoplanets we’ve found are similar to Jupiter in that they are distant enough from their host stars to potentially be visited by spacecraft without instantly melting them down. It’s doubtful we’ll ever come across something as serene as Lando Calrissian’s city, but you never know.
Endor / various exomoons
Planets are the big tamale we’re looking for, but there’s no reason to think an exomoon that’s orbiting its own exoplanet would prove uninhabitable.
Unfortunately, we’ve yet to confirm the identify of any exomoon candidates so far. It won’t be that way forever, but for now, we’ll have to wait until our technology progresses far enough. The question of whether those moons will resemble the dense forests of Endor is a bigger question altogether.
Alderaan / planet orbiting WD 1145+017
We’re not talking about Alderaan itself, but rather the fact that Alderaan was blown to bits in the first movie before the first half was even over. Last October, scientists reported that they watching a white dwarf star named WD 1145+017 disintegrating its own planet — not totally unlike what happened to Alderaan when the Death Star was set upon it. It’s a different mechanism, of course — the former is being pulled into its star, while the latter was set ablaze through a high blast of energy — but nevertheless it was an act of planetary destruction leaving no parts intact. Yikes.