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News Release 86 of 217

January 25, 2006 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2006-06

Astronomers Find Smallest Extrasolar Planet Yet Around Normal Star

January 25, 2006: Using an armada of telescopes, an international team of astronomers has found the smallest planet ever detected around a normal star outside our solar system. The extrasolar planet is five times as massive as Earth and orbits a red dwarf, a relatively cool star, every 10 years. This artist's illustration shows an icy/rocky planet orbiting a dim star. The distance between the planet, designated OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb, and its host is about three times greater than that between the Earth and the Sun. The planet's large orbit and its dim parent star make its likely surface temperature a frigid minus 364 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 220 degrees Celsius).

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Credit: NASA, NSF, ESO, K. Sahu (STScI) and the PLANET/RoboNet and OGLE Collaborations