Looking at all discovered exoplanets (4393 exoplanets), I found than only 17 of them (less than one percent!) have masses less or equal to Earth's mass. Why so?
- Is it because it is very difficult to discover an exoplanet of a low mass?
- Is it because of the mass distribution, so that Earth-mass planets are very rare?
- Is it because of the some other physical limitations?
According to Wikipedia:
The minimum mass/size required for an extrasolar object to be considered a planet should be the same as that used in our Solar System.
From another article:
A dwarf planet, by definition, is not massive enough to have gravitationally cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals: it is not known quite how large a planet must be before it can effectively clear its neighbourhood, but one tenth of the Earth's mass is certainly sufficient.
So, where are all these planets that are lighter than Earth? Personally, I suspect that it's very difficult to detect these (relatively) low-mass planets. If so, are there any theoretical limitations that prevent formation of low-mass planets?
Note 1: most of the planets (around 70%) from the mentioned catalog do not have masses (i.e. there's no estimate for the mass of a planet). Most of the rest have $\sin i$ mass estimates. That might be one of the reasons.