Thursday, April 10, 2008

Smallest extrasolar planet discovered: Spanish researchers

MADRID (AFP) - Spanish astronomers Wednesday announced the discovery of the smallest planet discovered to date outside the solar system, located 30 light years from earth.

The planet, "GJ 436T", was detected through a new technique which "will allow us to discover in less than 10 years the first planet resembling earth in terms of mass and orbit," said Ignasi Ribas of Spain's CSIC scientific research institute.

It was discovered by a team led by Ribas through its gravitational pull on other planets already discovered around the same star in the constellation of Leo.

"GJ 436T" has a mass five times the size of Earth, which makes it the smallest extrasolar planet among the roughly 300 identified so far, Ribas said in announcing the discovery.


NVDL: Maybe it's big enough for Earth's human population, (and far enough to be at a minimum safe distance from Earth's original ecosystem to pose a minimal risk of re-infection) since we apparently need 1.4 planets for all the cargo pants, SUV's and DVDs that we buy every day.

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