astroengine writes "The 'core accretion' model for planetary creation has been challenged (or, at least, modified) by a new theory from University of Leicester astrophysicists Seung-Hoon Cha and Sergei Nayakshin (abstract). Rather than small rocky worlds being built 'bottom-up' (i.e. the size of a planet depends on the amount of material available), perhaps they were once the cores of massive gas giant planets that had their thick atmospheres stripped after drifting too close to their parent stars? This 'top-down' mechanism may also help explain how smaller worlds were formed far from their stars only to drift inward toward the habitable zone."
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