Feeds

Boffins spot Luna-sized exoplanet

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

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.