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Astronomers spot the smallest star so far

From Engadget - July 12, 2017

The star, known as EBLM J0555-57Ab, is around 600 light years from Earth and it orbits another larger star every 7.8 days. Researchers with the Wide Angle Search for Planets experiment detected the tiny star as it passed in front of its more sizable neighbor and used Euler and TRAPPIST telescopes for further examination. "Thankfully, we can find these small stars with planet-hunting equipment, when they orbit a larger host star in a binary system," Alexander Boetticher, a researcher on the project and a Master's student at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory and Institute of Astronomy, said in a statement, "It might sound incredible, but finding a star can at times be harder than finding a planet."

It has enough mass to sustain hydrogen fusion, but just barely, preventing it from being classified as a sub-stellar object. "Our discovery reveals how small stars can be," said Boetticher, "Had this star formed with only a slightly lower mass, the fusion reaction of hydrogen in its core could not be sustained, and the star would instead have transformed into a brown dwarf."

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