Scientists Just Found Wimpiest Star in the Galaxy

Scientists Just Found Wimpiest Star in the Galaxy

Scientists Just Found Wimpiest Star in the Galaxy

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 red dwarf boasts a mass similar to that of TRAPPIST-1, despite being only a little larger than the planet Saturn, which has a radius of 72,000 miles (115,872 km), or almost 10 times the size of Earth. Being so compact, it is one of the densest stars out there, which means its gravitational pull is intense: about 300 times stronger than the pull of Earth's gravity on this planet's surface.

"Our discovery reveals how small stars can be", Alexander Boetticher, study lead and a student at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory and Institute of Astronomy, said in a press release.

Another example of a small star is Trappist-1, an ultracool dwarf surrounded by seven temperate Earth-sized worlds discovered by Nasa scientists in February.

The star is as little as stars can actually develop, as it has enough mass to empower the combination of hydrogen cores into helium.

Researchers published their discovery this week in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Their small size and dim brightness make them hard to detect.

And that could be a very helpful coincidence, since relatively small stars are our best bets for finding planets that resemble Earth.

Astronomers have identified the tiniest star ever found, and it's likely as small as a star can get. Astronomers say it's unlikely because - in order to create the thermonuclear fusion reactions needed for stars to shine - stars need a minimum mass. Unfortunately, it's hard to detect an object that is so dim and tiny; it can even be more difficult than locating a planet, which does not emit light.

With normal-sized stars this is nearly impossible to achieve because they are too bright for their orbiting planets to cause any detectable dimming. The smallest theoretic mass for a star is around 0.07 to 0.08 solar masses.

Hydrogen fusion is also what powers the sun, and is a process which scientists are attempting to replicate on Earth as a powerful source of energy. Since small and dim stars can contribute in identifying Earth-sized planets that contain liquid water, the astronomers believe that this new star could possibly help them search for alien life. "This is why, in parallel to our investigations into planets orbiting ultra-cool stars, we are also investigating the stars themselves".

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