Water worlds like Star Wars’ Kamino could exist in our own galaxy
The Skywalker Saga may have occurred in a fantastic galaxy far, far away. But amid our very own galaxy may be strewn worlds similar to those seen in the Star Wars movies.
Venus, for example, experiences extreme volcanic activity, bearing some resemblance to Mustafar, the lava planet where that fateful duel ensued between Obi-Wan Kenobi and young Darth Vader. Now scientists believe there could be a plethora of water worlds in our galaxy. Their descriptions sound similar to another world of Star Wars repute…
Right here in the Milky Way Galaxy, we’ve been witnessing the ongoing ventures of astronomy and astrobiology. While research facilities like SETI and METI have probed for extraterrestrial life beyond Earth, other studies have been preoccupied with another search – that of life-sustaining planets.
When seeking out hospitable worlds, one of the key ingredients scientists look for is water. Mars, for instance, is believed by some to have had an expansive sea once upon a time. One hypothesis holds that an ocean could, hypothetically, have encompassed nearly half the Red Planet’s northern hemisphere. Thus, life forms may have found proper living conditions.
What are scientists looking for?
Fortunately, though the waters of Mars have long ago dried up, there are other planets that still contain vast supplies of water.
Lately, scientists have been interested in terrestrial bodies hosting global liquid oceans. Such oceans could cover a substantial portion of a planet’s surface area or be concentrated in a subterranean pocket.
Exoplanets, those worlds beyond the limits of our solar system, have especially been examined for traces of liquid water. NASA scientist Lynnae Quick has paid close attention to the liquid water of terrestrial bodies within our system such as Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa. Their lunar geysers belch up water onto the surface.
Satellites like these serve as prototypes for potentially larger water worlds located elsewhere in the Milky Way.
In the search for life and for hospitable worlds, scientists are mainly concerned with planets located within a star’s habitable zone. This is the space – in proximity to a star – in which water can exist in a liquid phase of matter. It’s also known as the Goldilocks zone because it can’t be too hot, nor too cold. Otherwise, the water would be vaporous or frozen, not liquid.
In the past decade, astronomers have made some exciting discoveries in the system orbiting a star labeled Kepler-62. Out of the five planets in the Kepler-62 system, two of them are located in the habitable zone. These have been described as potentially harboring oceans that comprise the whole surface of a planet devoid of any landmasses.
The resulting picture is rather close to the seascape depiction of Kamino, a world prominently featured in Attack of the Clones.
Star Wars: Filled with fascinating planets
From the swamps of Dagobah to the depths of Naboo, cinematic Star Wars stories are packed with exotic bodies of water. And even more interesting are some of the creatures living in them. But the aquaplanet of Kamino takes the cake when compared to other oceanic climates in the Star Wars franchise.
One of the Kepler-62 water worlds may be very similar to Kamino, having nothing but turbulent waves and storms as far as the eye can see. Although, you know, it probably doesn’t have the whole cloning operation going on.
Last year, Harvard astronomer Li Zeng and his associates made computer simulations of water worlds. Through their research, they hypothesized that there could be an abundance of aquaplanets in the Milky Way and that their oceans could be hundreds of miles deep.
As the search for life-sustaining planets continues, who knows…? Some day we might find ourselves living on installations sprouting up out of the sea on a distant Kamino-like world.
If you could discover a planet with a climate similar to one of the worlds of Star Wars, what world would you choose? Let us know in the comments below!