Astronomers Find The Smallest Planet Beyond Our Solar System

Gregory Wakeman

Astronomers have discovered Kepler 37b, a planet which is only slightly larger than our Moon and thus has smashed the record for the smallest one discovered beyond our solar system.

To spot the planet, the astronomers needed to measure the size of its host star, which they did so by using astroseismology, which turns the light from the star into a sound.

The rocky planet is able to orbit its star in just 13 days and is joined in its solar system by two other planets, one of which is twice the size of Earth whilst the other is just one three-quarters Earth's size.

Francois Fressin, an published author in the field, told BBC News, "I think it's an amazing technological achievement to be able to detect small rocks like this. It means we're really in the arena where it's possible to detect all the planets of our Solar System, but around other stars."

The individuals who locate this planets often use the Kepler space telescope, which is able to stare at a fixed part of the sky and detect the tiny dips in stars light that happens when planets pass in front of them. This is known as a transit event.

Most exoplanets, which is a planet that exists outside our Solar Sustem, are believed to resemble either Jupiter or Neptune and are usually huge in their size. The record for the smallest is now being broken more frequently, as astronomers have proved more adept at finding them whilst the improved technology has also assisted these scientists in their pursuit.