Brum boffins discover new planet

Our star-gazing professors discover new planet, and they are over the moon!

UoB profs are in the running to become celebrities of the science world after discovering a new planet in the same month as they became best pals with NASA.

Astronomers from our uni have spotted a new planet in a survey of the Milky Way. It’s been given the catchy name of Kepler-37b.

NASA images of planets orbiting the star Kepler-37

The planet is the smallest so far to be discovered beyond the Solar System and is around the same size as the Moon.

It was detected by a space telescope in a survey of the 15,000 stars in our galaxy/ The telescope is designed to measure the tiny dimming of starlight that occurs when a planet moves across a star’s surface.

Professor Bill Chaplin, School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “This research shows for the first time that other stellar systems host planets much smaller than anything in our solar system.”

Professor Bill Chaplin…just chilling

The hot, empty planet orbits a Sun-like star called Kepler-37, hence the planet’s imaginative name. It is thought to be a smaller version of Mercury.

It is thought to be too hostile for life as it has no atmosphere or water, and has a surface blasted by heat and radiation; not too dissimilar to Selly Oak.

The discovery is the University’s latest venture into the skies above and more can be expected.

To infinity… and beyond!