A new study published in Nature Astronomy suggests that magnetism may be the key to explaining the diversity of planets in the universe. A previous theory called core accretion saw gravity as the key to understanding planet formation. The problem with this theory is stellar winds blow materials out too fast. However, magnetism has the ability to counteract these forces. Researchers used Europe’s fastest supercomputer to run simulations that incorporated both gravity and magnetic fields. Their findings suggest that magnetism is partly responsible for the abundance of intermediate-mass exoplanets in the universe.
- In a new study, published in Nature Astronomy in February, astronomers may be able to explain the striking diversity of planets.
- The dust and gas needed to make a gas giant get blown out faster than a hefty, gassy world can form.
- In general terms, astronomers know that magnetic fields may be able to protect nascent planets from a star’s wind.
“What, specifically, magnetic fields do has remained unclear, partly because of the difficulty in including magnetic fields alongside gravity in the computer models used to investigate planet formation.”