The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Feb 21, 2013
 

Tiny exoplanet smaller than Mercury found

 
 

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.