Scientists Discover New Planet That’s Even Smaller Than Earth [VIDEO]
Since 1995, scientists have confirmed the existence of more than 700 so-called exoplanets, but most of them have been massive. Now, though, they’ve found a new one — and it’s even smaller than Earth.
“People have been picking at the low-hanging fruit, since Jupiter-sized planets are easier to see,” said Kevin Stevenson, the young researcher at the University of Central Florida who led the team that spotted the planet. “Now we’re really pushing the limits of what our telescopes can find.”
Dubbed UCF-1.01, the planet was discovered with NASA’s Spitzer space telescope that orbits Earth. The new world is 33 light-years away in the constellation Leo the lion, and is estimated to be only 5,200 miles across, or about two-thirds the size of Earth.
But if you’re thinking it might be a nice place to call home, think again — Stevenson and his group think temperatures on its surface probably top 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning at least some of it is probably molten and covered in lava, and that any atmosphere the planet had would’ve burned off long ago.
That said, the find suggests that if UCF-1.01 could be detected with current telescope technology, other more habitable planets may soon be found as well.