A New “Mathematical” Definition Proposed for What Constitutes a Planet
Three exoplanet candidates found by the Planet Hunters citizen science project. Credit: Zooniverse
In the current (heated) debate of what constitutes a planet, it seems everyone can agree at least one thing: The current definition put forth by the International Astronomical Union is actually quite vague and it really only applies to our own Solar System. So while the definition is unclear at best in our own neighborhood, it also doesn’t provide a framework for classifying the thousands of exo-worlds that are being discovered on almost a weekly basis.
Since math has been dubbed “the language of the Universe” it seems rather fitting and logical to use arithmetic to help in framing a better definition for planethood.
This week, UCLA professor Jean-Luc Margot has proposed a simple mathematical test that can be used to separate planets from other bodies like dwarf planets and minor planets. He says his new system is easy.
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