JUL 08, 2019 3:55 PM PDT

The 'Fulton Gap' Could Explain an Ongoing Question Regarding Planet Formation

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

When looking at the bulk of distant exoplanets discovered by astronomers over the years, one thing seems obvious: most of those are either smaller to or equivalent in size to that of the Earth, or vastly larger. Captivatingly, there aren’t many worlds in the 1.5-2x the size of Earth range, a phenomenon commonly referred to by astronomers as the ‘Fulton Gap.’

It would appear that it’s particularly challenging to explain why exoplanets in this size range are so elusive, and to some astronomers, the answer may have implications for our understanding of how planets form.

One theory is that rocky planetary cores are either massive enough to cling onto their vast and gassy atmospheres, or that they're too small to do so and lose it to outer space. With that in mind, the ‘Fulton Gap’ may describe the ‘sweet spot’ in which this process occurs, and this would explain the current circumstances.

For what it’s worth, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope only surveyed a small portion of the sky, and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) hopes to observe a much more significant part of the sky, hopefully discovering a lot more exoplanets as it does. It’s possible that TESS could find more exoplanets that fit within the so-called ‘Fulton Gap,’ but if not, then the theory above seems highly likely.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
APR 21, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Zooming Back From a Black Hole
APR 21, 2021
Zooming Back From a Black Hole
The first images ever taken of a black hole were released in April 2019. The images were captured with the Event Horizon ...
MAY 24, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Plasma jets observed interacting with magnetic fields in far-off galaxy cluster
MAY 24, 2021
Plasma jets observed interacting with magnetic fields in far-off galaxy cluster
New observations from radio telescopes and supercomputer simulations show plasma jets interacting with magnetic fields i ...
JUN 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Curiosity Captures Shimmering Martian Clouds
JUN 01, 2021
Curiosity Captures Shimmering Martian Clouds
Mars has a thin atmosphere without much humidity, making cloudy days rare. But clouds can be found sometimes near the Ma ...
JUN 24, 2021
Space & Astronomy
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
JUN 24, 2021
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
Modern spacecraft are typically made out of carbon fiber composites. Now, however, the European Space Agency has announc ...
AUG 30, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Is it Safe to Travel to Mars?
AUG 30, 2021
Is it Safe to Travel to Mars?
It should be safe for humans to travel to Mars, provided journeys don’t take more than four years. The correspondi ...
NOV 19, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Space Taco: Nasa grows Hatch Green Chiles in space
NOV 19, 2021
Space Taco: Nasa grows Hatch Green Chiles in space
Now, incredibly, the famous pepper has been grown aboard the International Space Station!!!
Loading Comments...