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Why does nature form exoplanets so easily?

from Astrobites

Thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope, COROT, and ground-based observatories, the number of exoplanets that have been found is large (over 3,000 candidates and 114 confirmed) and growing. There seems to be planets everywhere, and some at least have in the past harbored life-forms that we would recognize. And a few could even harbor human-like creatures today. A recent paper published in American Scientists asks the seemingly simple question, "Why does nature form exoplanets so easily?" This is a basic question that often occupies the minds of "creationists" who claim that scientists do not know how the planets formed. In fact we have two good models of planet formation; the "bottom-up" approach also known as "core accretion", in which small objects combine to form larger objects, and the "top-down" approach also known "gravitational Instability", which involves a large cloud of gas and dust that fragment into smaller chunks. Both models have their challenges, but most of planets detected so far are thought to have been formed by the core-accretion process. More observations and finer classification schemes will certainly reveal more knowledge, but we may be facing a future without Kepler. more


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