Discovery! Smallest Star Ever Known Found by Astronomers

Image credits: Alexander von Boetticher et al.

A team of astronomers from the University of Cambridge, discovered the smallest star to be known ever, while they were on a search for the new exoplanets. According to the scientists, it is just a little smaller than Saturn.

Generally, we think that the stars are balls of fire, but scientists gave a completely new perspective to this view, with the discovery of the smallest star. This could offer some hint regarding the search for other Earth-like planets in our solar system.

HOW FAR IS THE SMALLEST STAR ?

The newly discovered smallest star is named as ‘EBLM J0555-57Ab’ and lies about nearly 600 light-years from the Earth. This tiny one orbits another larger star every 7.8 days. It is quite similar to TRAPPIST – an ultra-cool M-dwarf star. Though the star does not have an interesting name, it is a remarkable discovery made by the eminent astronomers.

Smallest star
Image credits: Alexander von Boetticher et al.

It is so tiny that it possesses just enough mass to allow the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. The star belongs to the binary system and was identified as it passed before its much larger companion. If this star carried a lower mass, the fusion reaction of the Hydrogen could not be constant, and hence, it would have turned into a brown dwarf.

The team utilized the data from an experiment named WASP (Wide Angle Search for The Planets), which is generally used to discover planets rather than the stars. During their study, they came across the parent star of EBLM J0555-57Ab, which signified an object in the orbit,” sources report.

WASP is a planet finding mission which involves numerous UK universities. Initially astronomers thought that they have discovered a new planet. However, they came to the realization that the newly discovered object wasn’t a planet but a tiny star.

Such small stars are  very common in our universe. But it is difficult to spot or detect them due to their size. The star was dim, nearly 2000 to 3000 times fainter than the Sun and hence, it is classified under small and dim star. The study also reveals that the gravitational pull of the star is about 300 times to that of the Earth.

Amaury Triaud of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy says,“The smallest stars provide optimal conditions for the discovery of Earth-like planets, and for the remote exploration of their atmospheres.

The team is getting ready to utilize this newly discovered tiny star to better understand about the planets orbiting the stars and always on the lookout for more planets, maybe alien life…

Source University of Cambridge Varsity

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