Smallest Star Discovered!
July 19, 2017
Astronomers have found the smallest star ever, and it might offer a hint of the search for other Earth-like planets.
THE NEW STAR
The new star is known as EBLM J0555-57Ab and sits about 600 light years away. It’s part of a binary system and was spotted when it travelled in front of the much bigger another half of its pair. Despite its miniature proportions, EBLM J0555–57Ab maintains just enough mass to enable the fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core. Despite qualifying as a star though, EBLM J0555–57Ab is extremely faint, being between 2,000 to 3,000 times fainter than our own Sun. Combined with its proximity to its much brighter and larger parent star EBLM J0555–57A that made finding the planet-sized pipsqueak something of a challenge.
WHAT DOES IT REVEAL?
The discovery reveals how small stars can be. Small, dim, and therefore cool stars like these are considered optimal candidates for hosting worlds that might support life, as the stars’ relative mildness could increase the likelihood of planets retaining liquid water on their surface.