Smallest star found, say astronomers


[World News]: Santiago, March 4 : An international team of astronomers in Chile claim to have discovered the world's smallest star, says Xinhua.

The star, christened OGLE-TR-122b, weighs 95 times more than Jupiter but is only 16 percent as large, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is in charge of the Paranal observatory in Atacama desert in north Chile, said Thursday.

"Imagine you add 95 times Jupiter's mass and in spite of this you end up with a star that only is slightly as large," said Claudio Melo, a Chilean astronomer and a member of the team of scientists.

"The body of the star gets contracted in order to give further room to additional matter, thus becoming more dense," Melo said.

The star, which is in the direction of the Carina constellation in the Milky Way, has an incandescent core thus shining on its own.

The observations were made in March 2004 with the Kueyen telescope, one of the four 8.2-metre telescopes in Paranal.

The star orbits around another star similar to the Sun, and takes one week to complete its revolution, the ESO said.

This is the first time that direct observation has shown existence of stars which are less than 10 percent of the mass of the Sun but are similar in size to giant planets like Jupiter.

"The results show the existence of stars that look strikingly like planets," said astronomer Frederic Pont, from Switzerland.

The discovery will help astronomers better understand a grey area in the definition of stars and planets.