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More Gas Giants Waiting to be Discovered

Carnegie's Alan Boss in his study predicts a large number of undiscovered gas giants orbiting Sun-like stars. His simulations indicate that these gas giants exist at distances similar to those of Jupiter and Saturn from the Sun.

This study could help in resolving the debate over the formation of the planets of our solar system. It could support the proposition that our planets were initially disks of gas and dust.

One theory states that gas giant planets form like our terrestrial planets. Rocky material accumulates till there is enough material to attract a large cover of gas around a solid core. The other theory states that gas giant planets form when the disk gas forms spiral arms. This gradually increases in mass and density until they combine to form gas giant planets.

The first theory fails to explain formation of gas giant planets beyond a certain orbital distance from their host stars. The second theory explains the formation of these planets only within a fixed orbital range — 20 and 50 times the distance between Earth and the Sun.

Boss believes that the second theory explains the creation of at least some exo planets. It is yet to be found out if gas giant planets can form closer to their host stars.



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