Astronomers know our solar system better than any other, but they're still learning new ways in which it doesn't seem to be particularly normal.
One such quirk, in patterns of planetary sizes, was the subject of a news conference held yesterday (Jan. 8) at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
The results could prompt scientists to revise a leading theory of how planets form.
Planet formation theory is pretty important even if you are only interested in habitable planets because it's not just enough to have a planet in the habitable zone, you have to have chemicals that are consistent with life and a history that's consistent with the development of life," David Bennett, an astronomer at the University of Maryland, said in a news conference held during the meeting.
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Right now, the leading theory of planetary formation, called the "core accretion model," is tailored to explain what we see in our solar system — the only one we knew much of anything about when the model was developed.