Feeds

Boffins spot Luna-sized exoplanet

Tiny 'Kepler-37b' is smaller than Mercury and very nasty

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Exoplanet hunters have made their smallest find ever, Kepler-37b, which is only fractionally larger than Earth's moon and rather smaller than Mercury.

The planet and its star are about 210 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra.

In a Letter to Nature, over 50 co-authors explain how the Kepler spacecraft helped them to spot and analyse the planet. Two of those work at the University of Sydney, which has published a brief precis of their thinking on the find.

"While theoretically such small planets are expected, detection of tiny planet Kepler-37b is remarkable given its transit signal is detectable on less than 0.5 percent of stars observed by Kepler," said Professor Tim Bedding, head of the University's School of Physics.

Dr Dennis Stello, an Australian Research Fellow in the same School said the size of the planet and its sun were deduced after the team “analysed the frequencies of standing sound waves inside the star to tell its size in the same way that you could tell the difference in size of a violin and cello by the difference in the pitch of the sound they produce.”

That analysis told boffins that Kepler-37 “is about 20 percent smaller than the sun”, which Stello says “is very important because the accuracy with which we can measure the radius of the planet Kepler-37b is limited by how accurately we can calculate the radius of Kepler-37.”

That radius is now felt to be very close to that of Earth's moon, The team also spotted Venus-sized Kepler-37c and another body double the size of Earth called Kepler-37d.

The three planets are the only one in orbit around their star. None seem particularly hospitable, with all orbiting closer to their sun than Mercury does to ours. All are therefore strong candidates to be nasty hot rocks lacking atmospheres, shade or any hospitable features.

Kepler-37b on a scale compared to other worlds

Kepler-37b on a scale compared to other worlds
Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

News of nicer planets may be on the way, as Stello says “Our work from here is to keep working with the planet team at NASA to make seismic analyses of planet-hosting stars, and there are some exciting results in the pipeline.” ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.