One of the great things about watching the Star Wars movies at a young age is the infinite sense of possibility they embody. When viewing The Empire Strikes Back for the first time, it’s easy to believe the series could go on forever and incorporate hundreds of different planets, each with its own unique biosphere, language, and customs—and perhaps even several of these at a time.
But as you get older, disillusionment sets in. Each planet in the Star Wars series is basically just a single kind of landscape, unrealistically extrapolated to an entire planet. There’s the desert planet, the ice planet, the planet that’s just a big city… and an alarming number of these planets bear a suspicious resemblance to the deserts of Morocco.
It’s disappointing because the premise of Star Wars had so many possibilities. Contrast that with the following real-life examples, which, while making survival difficult for anyone who ventured to explore them, are vastly more compelling than virtually anything seen in contemporary science-fiction.
9. Fomalhaut B: The Zombie Planet
One of the oddest planets discovered via the Hubble Space Telescope, Fomalhaut B, an exoplanet circling Fomalhaut, has an extraordinarily bizarre orbit that takes it from extremes of 4.6 billion miles from its star (in other words, extremely close) to 27 billion miles away at its furthest point. Even more puzzling, this orbit takes it right into the center of a massive debris field spanning 20 billion miles around Fomalhaut (that’s twice as wide as our solar system). It earned its nickname “the Zombie Planet” because scientists, after initially believing that it was a planet, concluded that it was really a giant dust cloud. But closer examination, in 2012, revealed that there is in fact a planet-like object located within the dust cloud.