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Astronomers from Cambridge University have discovered a new star in our galaxy which appears to be the smallest one ever found.

The star known as EBLM J0555-57Ab is almost 600 light-years away from Earth and can be easily seen from the Southern Hemisphere if viewed from telescope. Since small and dim stars can contribute in identifying Earth-sized planets that contain liquid water, the astronomers believe that this new star could possibly help them search for alien life.

The co-author and astronomers Amaury Triaud told CBC News, “The smallest stars provide optimal conditions for the discovery of Earth-like planets, and for the remote exploration of their atmospheres.” She added, “I was a little surprised to find one this small.”

The star was detected when it passed in front of its much larger companion, which is unusual because the process is generally used to identify planets and not stars, informed Daily Mail.

The lead author Mr Alexander Boetticher expressed, “Our discovery reveals how small stars can be.”

The new star is just a bit larger than Saturn and has a gravitational pull approximately 300 times stronger than that on Earth. However, being a bit smaller than Jupiter, the star contains mass 85 times larger than it.

Being 2000 to 3000 times fainter than Sun, EBLM J0555-57Ab contains a mass similar to that of Trappist-1 – another small star discovered by NASA and surrounded by seven planets – but is almost two thirds the size of Trappist-1.

Another trait of this star is that it has enough mass to combine hydrogen nuclei into helium, which a primary procedure of star formation. Not only being tiny, the star is also much cooler than many of gas giant exoplanets ever found.

The team is now looking forward to this discovery leading to find more copious stars in our universe. “It's like trying to look at a candle beside a lighthouse. It shows how many different objects exist in the universe,” Triaud said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2017

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