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December 26 2012

Oddballs: The strange worlds beyond our Solar System

Over the last two decades, astronomers have catalogued around 850 planets outside our Solar System. And the search for worlds orbiting other stars is turning up some weird and wonderful characters.

From a scorched gas giant that's darker than coal, to a planet packed with diamond, here are some of the oddballs-in-chief.

In a memorable scene from the film Star Wars, Luke Skywalker looks out over the horizon while two suns set in the sky of his home planet Tatooine. Astronomers have already discovered several "Tatooine" systems, where planets orbit double stars.

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