Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tiniest extrasolar planet found

Astronomers have sighted the smallest extrasolar planet yet orbiting a normal star just three times the size of our own. The planet orbits a star which is itself of such low mass it may in fact be a "failed star", or brown dwarf. The planet, called MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb, is about 3.3 times the size of Earth. Astronomers found the new world using a technique called gravitational microlensing. This takes advantage of the fact that light is bent as the rays pass close to a massive object, like a star. Discoveries like this bring astronomers closer to discovering micro-planets, around the mass of the Earth, which might harbor life.

Thanks to Shaun Saunders for the article from BBC News

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