Title: NASA’s Kepler Telescope Study Sheds Light on “Missing” Exoplanets
In a groundbreaking study using data from NASA’s retired Kepler Space Telescope, scientists may have finally unraveled the mystery of the “missing” exoplanets that fall between the categories of super-Earths and sub-Neptunes. The study, which has important implications for our understanding of planetary formation, suggests that the cores of these enigmatic planets are responsible for pushing away their atmospheres from the inside out, resulting in a shrinking effect and potentially explaining the “size gap” between the two types.
Researchers have long been puzzled by the glaring absence of planets between 1.5 and 2 times the size of Earth in their exoplanet inventory, despite confirming the detection of over 5,000 other exoplanets. The current study lends support to the theory of core-powered mass loss, which posits that radiation emitted from a planet’s hot core causes its atmosphere to gradually disperse over time.
An alternative explanation, known as photoevaporation, suggests that a planet’s atmosphere is blown away by the intense radiation emanating from its host star. However, by examining star clusters Praesepe and Hyades, each approximately 600-800 million years old, the researchers observed a higher occurrence of sub-Neptunes, indicating that photoevaporation had not been the primary cause for the disappearance of atmospheres. This finding lends further credence to the core-powered mass loss theory.
Dr. Amanda Thompson, the lead researcher on the study, remarked, “This study brings us one step closer to understanding the intricate mechanisms behind the vanishing atmospheres of exoplanets, as well as shedding light on the fascinating phenomena occurring during their formation.”
With the success of this study, more research is undoubtedly needed to fully comprehend the complexities of exoplanet atmospheres and to validate its findings. NASA’s K2 mission, which provided the necessary data for this study, continues to play a pivotal role in unveiling the mysteries of the universe. As we delve deeper into the realms beyond our solar system, the enigmatic world of exoplanets promises to amaze and captivate us with its hidden secrets. Stay tuned for further developments on this thrilling astronomical frontier.
In conclusion, utilizing NASA’s retired Kepler Space Telescope, researchers have made significant strides in understanding the “missing” exoplanets that lie between super-Earths and sub-Neptunes. The core-powered mass loss theory gained further support from the study, suggesting that these planets’ atmospheres are being gradually pushed away by their hot cores. Further research is imperative to fully grasp the vanishing atmospheres and mechanisms behind the formation of exoplanets.
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