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A New Planet Was Discovered – And Old Theories Must Change

Sometimes new discoveries show us that we didn’t understand the science as well as we thought.

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Astronomers keep discovering new planets they don’t understand. Recently, they found a huge planet around a small star named GJ 3512. According to their theories, it shouldn’t exist. It is too large.

The Old View

The theory of how solar systems begin was that they start with a giant cloud of gas and dust in space that is pulled together by gravity. As the cloud is compressed, the temperature increases. Finally, it is hot and compressed enough to ignite a nuclear reaction, and a star is born.

There is still much dust and gas remaining around the newborn star. These then clump together to become planets. The heaviest elements, like iron, band together closest to the new sun and become solid planets like our Earth, or our neighbors Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Further out, they become fluffy giant gas balls like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune.

A New Frontier

Scientists believed this theory explained where planets come from, but studying new planets in other solar systems has brought doubt to the theory. The planets that revolve around other stars are called exoplanets. The first one was discovered in 1992.

The recently discovered gas ball planet orbits a star that is 30 lightyears from Earth. To understand how far that is, you can imagine that the distance from Earth to the sun is one yard. Then the distance to GJ 3512 would be like flying from Los Angeles to New York.

Whenever you hear scientists say they are surprised by a finding, they are admitting that their theories weren’t quite right. Discovering exoplanets has led us to understand that we still have much to learn.

Earth-like Exoplanets

It is even more exciting that many of the exoplanets are similar to Earth in size, and some of them orbit stars that resemble our own sun. They may be habitable for humans. In 2017, a team of researchers at the University of Geneva discovered an Earth-like exoplanet around the red dwarf Ross 128. It is only 11 lightyears away!

So far, strange discoveries are making us take another look at our old theories of planetary formation. It leaves us wondering: Which of our other scientific beliefs could be wrong?

Onar Åm

International Correspondent at and Onar is a Norwegian author who has written extensively on politics, technology, and science. He has a mathematics and physics background and has been a technological entrepreneur for twenty years, working in areas ranging from biomass gasification and AI to 3D cameras and 3D TV. He is currently also the Editor of the alternative news site Ekte Nyheter (Authentic News) in Norway. Onar is the author of The Climate Bubble (2007) and The Art of War (2008).

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