Scientists have discovered the smallest-known star in the universe - slightly larger than Saturn in size - which may possibly have Earth-sized planets with liquid water in its orbit.
Researchers from University of Cambridge in the U.K. identified the star located about 600 light years away, called EBLM J0555-57Ab as it passed in front of its much larger companion.
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, researchers said.
With a size just a sliver larger than that of Saturn, the gravitational pull at its stellar surface is about 300 times stronger than what humans feel on Earth.
The discovery is also the best possible candidates for detecting Earth-sized planets which can have liquid water on their surfaces, such as TRAPPIST-1, an ultracool dwarf surrounded by seven temperate Earth-sized worlds.
This reveals how small stars can be.
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.
The star was identified by WASP, a planet-finding experiment run by several universities.
This star is smaller, and likely colder than many of the gas giant exoplanets that have so far been identified, researchers said.WASP: Know More
- Abbreviation: WASP
- Purpose: Search for distant planets
- Region served: La Palma and Sutherland
- Membership: Eight universities
- Website: wasp-planets.net