Smallest planet found orbiting distant star

Exoplanet is more diminutive than Mercury

By Andrew Grant, 12:41 PM February 20, 2013

Mercury may be the runt of the solar system, but it still can beat up on the newly discovered Kepler-37b, the smallest planet known.

Scientists used NASA’s Kepler space telescope to detect the shadow the planet casts when it crosses in front of its star, 215 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Most planets are large enough to block several hundred parts per million of their stars’ light, but astronomer Thomas Barclay from NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., a...

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