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Sun May 30, 2021, 11:08 PM

How shrinking planets might explain missing planets (earthsky.org)

Posted by
Paul Scott Anderson
May 27, 2021

Can planets shrink? New research from the Flatiron Institute in New York City suggests they can. Shrinking planets might be the solution to the mystery gap in the sizes of exoplanets discovered so far. Planets between 1.5 and two times Earth’s radius are mostly missing. The idea is that mini-Neptunes – smaller than Neptune but larger than super-Earths – might lose their thick atmospheres and thereby decrease in size.

Astrophysicist Trevor David of the Flatiron Institute led the new research. It was published in the peer-reviewed Astronomical Journal on May 14, 2021.

Astronomers noticed the so-called radius gap in exoplanets in 2017. Many planets are either smaller than 1.5 times Earth’s radius. Many are larger than two times Earth’s radius. But few are in between. Astronomers wanted to know why.

Shrinking planets are aging planets

Trevor David and colleagues took a new approach to the problem of the radius gap. They wondered if it changes with planets as they age.
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more: https://earthsky.org/space/shrinking-planets-mini-neptunes-super-earths-radius-gap/?utm_source=EarthSky+News

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