New research suggests that we may be indeed alone in the universe. j4 provided me with this little, er, nugget. The three large paragraphs are reasonable enough, if they do state the obvious: as CRB reminds me, it’s only possible to detect gas giants indirectly, through the change in their influence on the star itself, generally measured over the course of one orbit. Thus only the most eccentric orbits, and the fastest orbits can be detected.
Not being an astronomer by trade I can’t see how this would affect the preferred method of formation of such a solar system. But I can certainly imagine a gas giant ploughing through a newly-formed system hoovering up any geomorphs. So, yes.
But I only hope I can blame the statements
If the solar system is different, researchers can no longer base the understanding of how planetary systems work on it. Our search for other Earth-like planets may also be in vain.
Further research will be needed to determine if our solar system is truly unusual, or we have just not found another one like it yet.
on journalistic flourish rather than the scientists themselves. The conclusion of the first paragraph, given what CRB rightly pointed out, is merely unfounded and speculative and says more about our capacity for searching than about the possibility of a single other Earth planet. The conclusion of the second is strikingly similar to the fundamentalist Christian one regarding chance theories of life formation: an inability to grasp tiny probabilities, or long timescales, or enormous populations, leads to sweeping statements about what is and isn’t likely in the empirically silent majority. I’d hate to have to apply for a grant to perform that research.