Planets born from dying stars + Max number of planets that could orbit sun

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Planets born from dying stars

INTRO: Scientists studying the births of planets typically spend their time analyzing the rings of dust, known as protoplanetary disks, that form around freshly burning stars. From this dust, they have seen evidence of matter coming together to form protoplanets that, like Earth, orbit a single star. Now, Jacques Kluska and Hans Van Winckel from KU Leuven, Belgium, and colleagues report observations that indicate that there might exist another route for stars to birth planets. This finding could help scientists better understand how common planets are in the Universe... (MORE - details)

What's the maximum number of planets that could orbit the sun?

INTRO: The solar system contains eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, all of which circle the sun due to its intense gravitational pull. But is this the maximum number of planets that can orbit the sun? Or is there room for more?

Compared with other known planetary systems, the solar system contains an unusually high number of planets. In total, there are 812 known planetary systems with three or more confirmed planets, and only one other known system, Kepler-90, that contains as many planets as the solar system, according to The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia.

There is a good chance that a lot of these systems have small inner planets that we cannot detect, so it is unlikely that the solar system is actually the most populated planetary system in our cosmic neighborhood. But it highlights that eight exoplanets may be near the upper limit of how large a planetary system can naturally grow. 

Therefore, to work out the absolute maximum capacity of planets orbiting the sun, we need to move into the realm of the theoretical, ignoring some of the natural factors that may limit how many planets can form. One of the best ways to do that is to design, or engineer, a brand-new solar system from scratch... (MORE - details)

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