New studies suggest lonely planets flying through intergalactic space were formed by star-destroying supermassive black holes.
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The conventional understanding of how planets formed has undergone several surprising shakeups. We used to think interstellar gas would collapse into a star with a disc of dust that clumps together and forms planets with rocky cores, in a theory called the Core Accretion Hypothesis.
But in the early 1990s, we learned it doesn't always work that way. Some pulsar stars, remnants of normal stars after a supernova, have orbiting planets formed from the debris of the original star. And some gas planets form very close to the star, even though they were predicted to only form far away from a star.
And recent studies indicate that planets can even form when a star is eaten by a black hole and star stuff is ejected into the universe.
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