Astronomers discover smallest-ever star: Cambridge University study

Updated 2017-07-13 08:47:50 Xinhua

Astronomers have identified the smallest star ever measured, which is slightly larger in size than that of Saturn, according to a study released Wednesday by the University of Cambridge.

The star, located about six hundred light years away, was discovered by a team led by astronomers from the University of Cambridge.

The newly-measured star, called EBLM J0555-57Ab, is part of a binary system, and was identified as it passed in front of its much larger companion, a method which is usually used to detect planets, not stars.

The star is likely as small as stars can possibly become, as it has just enough mass to enable the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium.

"Had this star formed with only a slightly lower mass, the fusion reaction of hydrogen in its core could have not been sustained, and the star would instead have transformed into a brown dwarf," said Alexander Boetticher, the lead author of the study, and a Master's student at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory and Institute of Astronomy.

Meanwhile, this newly-measured star has a mass comparable to the current estimate for TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star that scientists reported in February. TRAPPIST-1 is surrounded by seven temperate Earth-sized worlds, but has a radius that is nearly 30 percent smaller.

"The smallest stars provide optimal conditions for the discovery of Earth-like planets, and for the remote exploration of their atmospheres," said co-author Amaury Triaud, senior researcher at Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy. "However, before we can study planets, we absolutely need to understand their star; this is fundamental."

Also in the News

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time
Showbiz2016/06/16 13:58August 22 2017 05:32:52

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time

Attending Shanghai International Film Festival, Nicole Kidman talks about her role in "Grace of Monaco".

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts
Also in the News2014/05/01 12:16August 22 2017 05:32:52

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'
Also in the News2014/04/18 13:18August 22 2017 05:32:52

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'

Hollywood star Johnny Depp's speech in the upcoming new film "Transcendence" has been disclosed on Friday, April 11th.

Most Watched

News:
China World Business Sports Showbiz Audio
Video:
C4 My Chinese Life The Sound Stage China Revealed Showbiz Video Travel Video
Photos:
China World Fun Travel Entertainment Sports
Travel:
Beijing Shanghai Guangzhou
Lifestyle:
Live Music Opera & Classical Movies Traditional Shows Exhibitions
Learn Chinese:
Chinese Studio Living Chinese Everyday Chinese Just For Fun Chinese Culture Buzzwords