London, January 20 (ANI): The lightest known exoplanet, called MOA-2007-BLG-192-L b, may be even smaller than earlier thought, according to a study.
Scientists initially believed that the exoplanet weighed 3.3 Earths.
But Jean-Philippe Beaulieu of the Paris Astrophysical Institute, a member of the team behind the latest study, said that the planet weighs just 1.4 Earths.
A presentation on the new analysis of the rocky body was made at a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in London last week.
The presenters said that, in size terms, the planet was a near twin of our own planet, closer in mass than any known planet except Venus.
Scott Gaudi of Ohio State University in Columbus, who was not part of the research team, said that the new measurements "give a much more robust estimate" of the mass of the planet and its host star.
"The result is important because this is the lowest-mass planet yet detected, and is extremely close to the mass of the Earth. Obviously, finding a true Earth-mass planet is one of the biggest goals of searches for exoplanets. We are very close to that goal now," New Scientist quoted him as saying.
The researchers plan to get more data on the parent star in April or May using the Very Large Telescope in northern Chile. (ANI)