The Secret to Planet Formation Might Be Hiding in the ‘Fulton Gap’

The Secret to Planet Formation Might Be Hiding in the ‘Fulton Gap’

Starting in 2009, the spacecraft Kepler scanned
the night sky hunting for distant worlds. Over the course of its nearly decade long
mission, it identified over 2,300 confirmed exoplanets, making us realize the galaxy was
much fuller than we previously thought. But poring over the data, something jumps
out at you: we seem to be missing planets of a particular size. It appears there are a lot of rocky planets
in the ballpark of Earth’s size, up to 1.5 earth radii. And there seem to be plenty of gas planets
that are like mini-Neptunes, 2 to 3 times as big as Earth across. But a 2017 paper on the data noted that between
those two peaks is a noticeable dip. There are way fewer planets 1.5 to 2 times
Earth’s size than we’d expect. For some reason, instead of a smooth distribution
curve, there’s a big gap. It looks like my teeth in middle school. The anomaly has been dubbed the Fulton Gap. The Fulton Gap calls into question what we
think we know about planetary formation, and we’ve had to come up with explanations to
make the data fit. Some of them focus on atmospheric loss. The mini-Neptunes we see could have cores
massive enough to hold onto their gassy atmospheres. Gas can add to a planet’s size easily since
it takes up so much space. But if the cores aren’t big enough, astronomers
suggest the atmosphere could get blown away, leaving the much smaller and denser rocky
mass behind. It’s like a reverse Goldilocks scenario,
and any planets we do see in the gap may not be there for long. Atmospheric loss is one of three general ideas. It’s possible that planets just naturally
fall on one side of this gap or the other, maybe due to how dust and gas is distributed
after a star forms. Or perhaps planets of a certain size just
cook their atmosphere away as they cool, an effect called “core-powered mass-loss.” Core-powered mass-loss is also what I’m
calling my ab-focused fitness program. This is assuming the larger planets are gassy
layers over a rocky core, but truth be told we aren’t sure about their makeup just yet. What some astronomers think is hydrogen gas,
others argue could be water. Really what we need is more data. Kepler told us a lot, but it only looked at
one tiny patch of sky near the Cygnus constellation for most of its lifespan. It also studied distant dim stars that are
harder to follow-up on using additional telescopes on the ground. The Transient Exoplanet Survey Satellite,
or TESS, should remedy a lot of those shortcomings. Launched in April of 2018, TESS will monitor
an area of the sky 400 times larger than Kepler did, observing stars 30 to 100 times brighter. And it will be able to detect planets farther
away from their stars that take longer to pass in front of it. So far TESS has only had enough time to confirm
20 more exoplanets. Once it’s had enough time to document a
statistically significant number, we can revisit the Fulton gap. Maybe it’ll end up going away, or maybe
it’ll persist and the cosmic mystery will remain unsolved. Thanks for watching be sure to subscribe because
we love talking about exoplanets, and the craft that found most of them was a testament
to human ingenuity and can-do spirit. For the full story check out Trace’s video
here. That’s all for now, see you next time on

100 comments on “The Secret to Planet Formation Might Be Hiding in the ‘Fulton Gap’

  1. Lazlo Valentin Post author

    The background is lame and the jokes are stupid, but it's a great video overall

  2. Joel Murphy Post author

    His T-shirt made me think of the fact that sometimes, when I'm trying to remember the term, "baryonic matter," my brain produces the phrase, "embryonic matter." I expect that'd be a very different sort of matter.

  3. Girish Mahay Post author

    *The Mystery of Planet Formation Might Be in the 'Fulton Gap'.

    Secret and Hiding, is a Human Thing. Existentialy these Two Things don't Exist.

  4. OldGamerNoob Post author

    EDIT: read the following carefully as I hadn't noticed that this data was concentrated on small planets only.

    I would guess (somewhat uneducated) that, similar to our own system, there are terrestrial planets and gas/ice giants with a gap in between. I'd say it's a combination of the mentioned cook-away and core-gravity scenarios mentioned in the video BUT both caused by another factor: energy received from their star at their orbital distance.

    I'd say the ratio of solid (rocky) substances and more volatile (gassy) substances in the nebulous clouds the planets come from at the moment of star formation is roughly the same everywhere BUT when the star starts pelting inner planets with solar (stellar?) wind, that pushes the gasses out of the inner part of the cloud and off of any cores that have already started forming at that point and into the outer solar (stellar?) system, leaving the resulting planets as either being rocky cores with or without huge gaseous atmospheres. Their atmospheres have been "cooked off" … but by their star, and the having more mass frozen onto outer planets might be a thing, too, helping them hold onto more gas … so both? … but the heat from atmospheric pressure inside those gas giants might make this a less likely factor, now that I think of it.

    Let the future data come in and if I'm lucky and my theory is confirmed, you heard it here first, folks. 😉

  5. Staniel Petrov Post author

    If you ask me, we are unable to see the smallest planets from this distance yet.

  6. Trueantitheist Post author

    It's pretty easy to imgine how planets form, a bunch of dust clumps together to form rocks, rocks form asteroids, asteroids form planetesimals, and those come together to form planets all thanks to gravity, there solved it.

  7. PURGE Post author

    My question is what if something manages to stay solid during a fall through a gas giant will it fall through the planet and exit on the opposite side exiting back into space????

  8. My Nontraditional Life Post author

    I wonder if the issue is in how we observe these planets and that if we changed our method of observation, the curve would become more of a normal distribution. It is amazing how much could be out there in space, and while our tools have quickly gotten better, there is so much out there that we just might not be able to see or fully study right now.

  9. HyperisticNiku Post author

    Damn I love space. I always watch these videos late at night while I should be sleeping.

  10. he11b1ade Post author

    Nothing is unsolved nor a cosmic mystery in front of retarded christians. It's always god did it.

  11. lbc_ goon Post author

    Honestly bro I just be waitching alll these science videos high asf thinking I’m smart and im really learning shit knowing imma forget it inna week

  12. Interstellarsurfer Post author

    Probably an instrumentation error/bias. When you only have one insyrument, you're only going to detect what that particular instrument is tuned to detect.

  13. Ezra Hoogenraad Post author

    Do u guys use a grey panel for colour correction?. if not I would recommend it, colours of your host seem of, perhaps it is just to much studio light though

  14. Albert Einstein Post author

    When you think about it. This idea seems more likely to the original concept. All early planets was set to be gas giants that collect gas for their atmosphere. Some loose it and become rocky planets. Others don’t? Maybe, maybe not

  15. Quincy L. Edwards Post author

    If only WE could figure this out! Then WE could…uh…know, uh…how does this help humanity?

  16. Ungha Bungha Post author

    Most people don't realize that our molten core, creating a magnetic field, is one of many necessary factors that would render Earth dead and lifeless if we didn't have it.

  17. Gehad Ibtahim Post author

    The human heart in the glorious Quran

    The human heart is mentioned (132) times in the Glorious Qur'an, besides several other notions under 50th the metaphoric expressions "human chest Fou'ad" or the inner in both the singular and the plural forms. Of these Qur'anic statements, some describe this sentient organ as having the capacity of being a center of reasoning, intentions and decision – making. Consequently, human hearts can either be healthy or diseased. Healthy (or soft hearts) can have their humane attitude and balanced rational, while diseased (or hard, stony) hearts can loose both their humane touch and their capacity to see and understand. Such Qur'anic emphasis on the role of the human hearts in the mental, emotional and spiritual decisions of man came down more than 14 centuries ago, while physicians have –for centuries – been restricting the function of the human heart to the mere process of pumping the blood throughout the human body.

    However, science has recently proven that the human heart is as sentient as the human brain, if not much more, as it has its own form of intelligence. Not only this, but it has been proven experimentally that the human heart does influence the brain's thinking capacity, and hence its physical capability of accepting, comprehending and storing knowledge. It has also been proven that the human heart communicates with both the brain and the rest of the human body neurologically (through the nervous system), biophysically (through pulse waves), biochemically (through certain hormones), and electromagnetically (through energetic waves).

    The human heart's electromagnetic field is the most powerful rhythmic field produced by the human body. It envelopes every cell in that body, and extends out in all directions into the space surrounding it, as an important carrier of information.

    The recently discovered human heart –brain synchronization (or the so-called Cardiac Coherence) has become an established fact, proving that the human heart's activity influences that of the brain, and that the heart has its own form of intelligence. Cardiac intelligence can process information about its body as well as its surroundings. This takes place through an "info- energetic code" in the form of a profuse network of blood vessels and cells that serve as energy information gathering and distributing system, recently termed "the heart code" by Paul Pearsall.

    For the Noble Qur'an to spell out this fact more than 14 centuries ago is a living testimony to both its divine origin and the correct Prophethood of the noble messenger who had received it.

  18. Brett_Kendrick Post author

    I didn't realize planet formation was a "secret" 😂 it clearly is a product of gravity and magnetism.

  19. david gonzalez Post author

    Ahh planet formation…yet another THEORY that we all take as fact. Everything we believe about the creation of the universe is THEORY.

  20. Emery Paine Post author

    That kind of makes sense to me: smaller cores can't hold onto their atmospheres so they are just small & larger cores can so they stay large.

  21. Dalton Jenkins Post author

    I personally think that if one day in the near future we might be able to terraform Mars and maybe see Intelligent Life be able to grow at the stage we are today 🙂 just one of my many ideas a never ending explosing of ideas just like Elon Musk and I'm not taking my Adhd medication anymore now I'm at my normal baseline of my own unique individual intelligence that is a very unsual hyperactive mindset due to having a Brain that has Neurotransmitters wired in a very different way every Human has a different mind 🙂

  22. dave Post author

    I'm so excited with where we are right now in our planetary search. We know some things but have really just scratched the surface. What makes me sad is we won't really have figured most things out for decades to come – and by then I'll be dead.

  23. Troy Smith Post author

    earth sized planets should be rare as our planet is a result of a collision and used to be bigger. super earth should be more common.

  24. hypersonic blabla Post author

    i think we might be seeing the bar codes of the planets, i mean the formation of a planet related to stars size and how close they are to those stars they revolve around, very soon we might get new viable explinations, EXCITING 😀

  25. Chance Spicer Post author

    You made that ab joke, but it does look like you’re gaining a bit more weight!

  26. Prajwal Hegde Post author

    Love from India 🇮🇳 have been watching your videos from years now , great channel for science lovers

  27. GS Alien Post author

    If a bi-lateral symmetrical humanoid form of life arose on an Earth-like exoplanet that was approximately 1.5 times larger than Earth itself, would those life forms be approximately 1.5 larger than Earth based humanoids?

  28. Rursus Post author

    I must dislike this amateurish video. Error in video production: at 0:45 a curve is shown about known planet sizes; 0:48 a blue circle is shown, 0:49 the distribution curve and the blue circle is starting to fuzz and is moved to the left, 0:49 the explanation "there's a huge gap" is mentioned. That is: the curve and the blue circle aren't explained until after they are removed from the view of the video viewer. That's amateurish. That is also a very bad timing. Hint for the future, do not remove pauses after the sentences: a good guideline should be 1-3 seconds. During those 1-3 seconds, the image should be a still image, with no movements, so that the conclusion and the point of the sentence sinks into the video viewer.

  29. Thomas Tarrants Post author

    There was a paper a while back on arXiv using revised stellar radii from Gaia DR2 data to confirm the Fulton Gap. It's definitely persisting.

  30. Rami Mashoor Post author

    Its look like my teeth in middle school 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  31. Elder 987419 Post author

    Do you guys ever stop and wonder what would happen if a star froze over?

    It could become a planet or it could explode

  32. stupid cellulit Post author

    𝕋α𝕜𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕗ı𝕣𝕤𝕥 𝕤𝕥𝕖𝕡 ı𝕟 𝕗αı𝕥𝕙. You don’t hαve to see the ɯhole stαırcαse. Just tαke the fırst step. -Dr Mαrtın Luther Kıng Jr. – Hoɯ To Use The Lαɯ Of Attrαctıon >

    හිරි වැටීම විටමින් විචලනය පෙන්නුම් කරයි. නමුත් තවමත් නිසි පරීක්ෂාවක් කිරීම හොඳයි

  33. ju caesar Post author

    Somehow, I just keep getting distracted by that morse code in the background. However, I can't really make it out, either, because it is just to faint to hear it clearly.

  34. Harm Vandorp Post author

    2300 exoplanets in a tiny patch and you already think that is enough to make a theory?

  35. WhxFIGHTx Gerard Post author

    Why do you belittle yourself its not even funny ? 🙁 Youre intelligent and world should look up to you.

  36. Nedjean Post author

    :Trace from DNews!! I found him today in person!

    Uno dos of trace, or Trace Dominguez. Subscribe to his new channel..

  37. Dalibor Rodic Post author

    I'm using Trappist 1-e exoplanet as the setting for my fiction novel. Can someone tell me where I could find information about how the life could look like there (in case it actually exists) or/and what kind of natural conditions could rule there? A study on any kind of exoplanet would come in handy though. Thanks!

  38. GongPeddler Post author

    Is it possible that a threshold exists… where planets whose mass is too small to hold onto an atmosphere are more likely to collide with another planet? Or the opposite conclusion, collision with the parent star? If the gap does exist, what else could explain for it?

  39. World Peace Post author

    That's because Death Star already destroy most of them, especially the one that's inside goldilock zone.

  40. sean rogan Post author

    2200 planets discovered and we still haven’t found any evidence to support the gravitational accretion theory of planet formation.


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