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NSBP member led team finds smallest exopanets yet

from NASA

A team lead by NSBP member John Johnson at Caltech, and that included Vanderbilt University's Keivan Stassun, has discovered the three smallest exoplanets yet detected. The three planets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, and are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The planets orbit close to their star, taking less than two days to orbit around it. That makes them too hot to be in the habitable zone. The team used data publicly released by the Kepler mission, along with follow-up observations from the Palomar Observatory, near San Diego, and the W.M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Kepler searches for planets by continuously monitoring more than 150,000 stars, looking for telltale dips in their brightness caused by crossing, or transiting, planets. more

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