Space Current Affairs

Scientists discover smallest star known in the universe

Scientists from University of Cambridge, UK have discovered the smallest star in the universe. It has been named as EBLM J0555-57Ab.

The star was identified by SuperWASP, a planet-finding experiment run by several universities. It was detected when it passed in front of its larger parent star, forming an eclipsing stellar binary system.

Key Facts

EBLM J0555-57Ab is located about 600 light years away. It is slightly larger than Saturn in size and may possibly have Earth-sized planets with liquid water in its orbit. It is likely as small as stars can possibly become, as it has just enough mass to enable the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium at its centre .

The gravitational pull at EBLM J0555-57A’s stellar surface is about 300 times stronger than on Earth. It is likely colder than many of the gas giant exo-planets that have so far been identified. The discovery of EBLM J0555-57A also makes the best possible candidate for detecting Earth-sized planets which can have liquid water on their surfaces, such as TRAPPIST-1, an ultracool dwarf surrounded by seven temperate Earth-sized worlds.

About SuperWASP

SuperWASP is the UK’s leading extra-solar planet detection programme. It is run by a consortium of eight academic institutions. It consists of two robotic observatories that operate continuously all year around, to cover both hemispheres of the sky.

The first robotic observatory, SuperWASP-North is located on La Palma Island (in Atlantic Ocean) amongst the Isaac Newton Group of telescopes (ING). The second observatory, SuperWASP-South is located at the site of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), Sutherland, South Africa.

The observatories each consist of eight wide-angle cameras that simultaneously monitor the sky for planetary transit events. These cameras can monitor millions of stars simultaneously to detect the rare transit events.


Remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2A successfully launched

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2A into its dedicated orbit.

It was launched onboard of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle  (PSLV)-C36 from first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. It was PSLV’s 38th flight and XL version of the rocket was used. It was the 37th consecutive successful flight of the rocket.

About Resourcesat-2A

  • Resourcesat-2A is a follow on mission to its predecessor remote sensing satellites Resourcesat-1 and Resourcesat-2, launched in 2003 and 2011 respectively.
  • It is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by it two predecessors.
  • Resourcesat-2A weighs 1,235 kg and is placed into an 817 km polar sun synchronous orbit (i.e. orbiting pole-to-pole). The mission life of Resourcesat-2A is five years.
  • It carries three payloads viz. high resolution Linear Imaging Self Scanner (LISS-4) camera, medium resolution LISS-3 camera, and coarse resolution Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) camera. These three cameras of different resolution.
  • These cameras will give regular micro and macro information on land and water bodies below, forests, farm lands and crop extent, coastal information, mineral deposits, rural and urban spreads besides helping in disaster management.
  • It also carries two Solid State Recorders with a capacity of 200 Giga Bits. Each of it can store the images taken by its cameras which can be read out later to ground stations.

About PSLV

The PSLV rocket is a four stage/engine indigenous light-lifting rocket powered by solid and liquid fuel alternatively. It has emerged as the workhorse launch vehicle of ISRO offered for launching satellites for international customers. Between 1994 and 2016, the PSLV has launched a total of 121 satellites, of which 42 are Indian satellites and 79 satellites are from abroad. The PSLV-XL variant of the rocket is 44.4 metres tall and weighs 3201 tonnes.