An exoplanet smaller than Earth just discovered
UCF-1.01 might be the nearest world to our own solar system that is smaller than our home planet. But the planet is unlikely to be habitable due to its molten surface and the little, if any, atmosphere.
Evidence for UCF1.01 turned up when astronomers were studying a known Neptune-sized exoplanet, called GJ436, seen in the background of the image above.
The identification of nearby small planets may lead to their characterisation using future more advanced instruments. In this way, worlds like UCF-1.01 might serve as stepping stones to one day finding a habital, Earth-like exoplanet.
Of Kepler’s 1800 candidate stars, only three have been confirmed to have planets smaller than Earth and just one is believed to be smaller than Spitzer’s potential find.