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February 20, 2013
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Smallest planet yet found outside solar system

LOS ANGELES - Astronomers have found the smallest planet yet outside of our solar system.

It's about the size of our moon and it's the first known planet smaller than any in the solar system.

The planet was detected using NASA's Kepler telescope, launched in 2009 to hunt for Earth-like planets.

Despite the buzz, the newfound planet is too hot to support life. Scientists estimate its surface temperature is a sizzling 700 degrees Fahrenheit. It also lacks an atmosphere and water on the surface.

The discovery is detailed in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

Scientists are still searching for a planet the size of Earth in the so-called Goldilocks zone - the not-too-hot, not-too-cold place where water could exist on the surface.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 20, 2013 01:51PM Published Feb 20, 2013 01:44PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.