Monday, Nov 24, 2014Monday, Nov 24, 2014
 

Tiny exoplanet smaller than Mercury found

Published on Feb 21, 2013 6:28 AM
 
Nasa's artist's illustration compares the planets in the Kepler-37 system to the moon and planets in the solar system. Nasa's Kepler mission has discovered a new planetary system that is home to the smallest planet yet found around a star like our sun, approximately 210 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. The smallest planet, Kepler-37b, is slightly larger than our moon, measuring about one-third the size of Earth. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Astronomers on Wednesday said they had found the smallest planet ever spotted beyond our Solar System, a scorched and uninhabitable mini-world tinier than Mercury.

The planet is the innermost of three that orbit a Sun-like star called Kepler-37, named after the Kepler telescope, which was launched in 2009 with the quest of scrutinising the Milky Way for other worlds.

Kepler monitors more than 150,000 stars, analysing their light for a characteristic "wobble" caused by the gravitational tug of a planet that passes just in front of the star.

Dubbed Kepler-37b, the little world is smaller than Mercury, the innermost and smallest planet of our Solar System, and just a tad bigger than the Moon at a third the size of Earth.

 
If you are not a subscriber, you can get instant, unlimited access here

Videos