Smallest Star Ever: Scientists Find Star Smaller Than Some Planets

  • Smallest Star Ever: Scientists Find Star Smaller Than Some Planets

Smallest Star Ever: Scientists Find Star Smaller Than Some Planets

It is located about 600 light-years away from Earth, it is part of a peculiarly lopsided binary system and it can be seen through a large telescope from the Southern Hemisphere, as CBC News noted. It was identified as it passed in front of its much larger companion star by the same technique - called the transit technique - used to identify many exoplanets.

The newly discovered star has a mass that is similar to TRAPPIST-1, but its radius is about 30 percent smaller, according to the university.

Small and dim stars are key to discovering Earth-like planets that may have liquid water on their surface, an essential criteria for the possibility of life. If the star was just a bit smaller (about 83 Jupiter masses), there wouldn't be enough pressure in its center for the process to occur, and it would instead have formed as a brown dwarf, rather than a true star.

Researchers published their discovery this week in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The small size of 57Ab places it in a class of stars called ultracool stars. "It might sound incredible, but finding a star can at times be harder than finding a planet". This star is so dim, astronomers think that it's likely the smallest they've ever-or will ever-find. If it were any smaller in mass, 57ab wouldn't be able to pull off the feat of nuclear fusion in its core and thus wouldn't qualify as a star. Their diminutive size and luminosity in comparison to a stellar body such as our Sun, however, makes them relatively hard to detect. The scientists only spotted it because it has a companion, a brighter star that it orbits. Initially, EBLM J0555-57Ab was suspected of being an exoplanet as it orbited in front of its parent star. One of those planets is also TRAPPIST-1, a dwarf that is surrounded by a whooping seven planets which are approximately the same size as Earth.

Can stars get any smaller than this one? Hydrogen fusion is an extremely powerful energy source and scientists have been attempting to create it for a long time. The biggest star, if you know, is named VY Canis Majoris in the constellation Canis Major. In 2009, astronomers discovered the first planet orbiting a dwarf star.

"Our discovery reveals how small stars can be", said Alexander Von Boetticher, the lead author of the study and a graduate student at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

'However, before we can study planets, we absolutely need to understand their star; this is fundamental'.