The University of Cambridge's astronomers have found the tiniest star in the Milky Way Galaxy that is barely the size of Saturn. This is dubbed as EBLM J0555-57Ab.
According to Gizmodo, EBLM J0555-57Ab is the smallest as the stars can get according to physics. This Astronomy & Physics study titled "A Saturn-size low-mass star at the hydrogen-burning limit" shows the star as one of the densest active stellar objects ever found. Its gravitational pull at the surface is about 300 times stronger than what people experience on the planet Earth. This means that it has just enough mass to cause the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. It is the same fusion reaction that powers mankind's very own Sun.
"Our discovery reveals how small stars can be," Alexander von Boetticher, a Master's student at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory and Institute of Astronomy and the lead author of the study, explained in a statement. "Had this star formed with only a slightly lower mass, the fusion reaction of hydrogen in its core could not be sustained, and the star would instead have transformed into a brown dwarf."
The newly discovered tiniest star, EBLM J0555-57Ab, is huge enough to pass the standards for a full-fledged star -- that is, even though with its size. It is identified and measured by the use of WASP, which is a planet-hunting initiative run by the Universities of Keele, Warwick, Leicester and St. Andrews. It is located about 600 light-years away from Earth, it is part of a peculiarly lopsided binary system and it can be seen through a large telescope from the Southern Hemisphere, as CBC News noted.
The team of astronomers that discovered this tiniest star is part of the one that found the TRAPPIST-1 system, which is another tiny and dim star that contains seven planets -- of which five are Earth-size planets.