Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nasa finds trio of smallest rocky planets yet orbiting distant star

Nasa's Kepler space telescope has discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star beyond our Sun - one of which is as small as Mars.

The planets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, and are between three-quarters and half the size of Earth. The star itself is a tiny, cool red dwarf - leading Nasa to comment, 'Honey, I shrunk the planetary system.'

All three planets are thought to be rocky like Earth. Of the more than 700 planets confirmed to orbit other stars, called exoplanets, only a handful are known to be rocky.

'Astronomers are just beginning to confirm the thousands of planet candidates uncovered by Kepler so far,' said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Read More