It’s scarce, and they’re not making any more of it.
From Bruce Dorminey at Forbes:
As Robert Wittenmyer, an astronomer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and the paper’s lead author told me, NASA ’s Kepler space telescope has shown us that small planets appear to be ubiquitous. But he says very few observers are looking at what he terms the other half of the question, the long-period gas giants.
The findings are important because conventional theories of planet formation have usually dictated that gas giants like Jupiter parked in a stable, rather distant, orbit from its parent star were thought to be key to the onset of life on closer-in Earth-like planets.
“You could certainly have Earth-sized planets without [gas giants] beyond,” said Horner. “But without a Jupiter-like planet to throw volatile-rich objects toward that planet, it may not be able to get a significant amount of water. Earth without Jupiter might be a very different place with fewer impacts perhaps, but far more arid and inhospitable.” More.
But who needs waterfront anyway, right?
See also: Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!
“Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …”
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