There are many undiscovered exoplanets left – math can help us find them

Only 12 light years from Earth, Tau Seti The closest single star to the Sun and an all-time favorite in sci-fi stories. The Tau Seti, orbiting the sensual world, was the naval of “The Expanse” and the destination of fictional starships like the ship of “Barbrala”. Captain Picard of “Star Trek” also frequented an alien bar in the system. Now, thanks to a new approach to analyzing the arrangement of nearby planets, we have a deeper understanding of the real world that revolves around Tau Seti and many other nearby stars.

Exoplanets – the world around other stars – have long been staples of science fiction but mostly inaccessible to scientific investigation. This all changed in the last decade, when NASA Kepler And Tess Exoplanet hunter space telescopes added thousands of new planets to the alien world’s first small tally.

We, Astrophysicist and exoplanet researcher On University of Arizona Steward observatory And Lunar and planetary laboratoryAnd are members of NASA’s NExSS Exoplanet Research Coordination Network, May have long been fascinated by the mysteries of nearby unaffected planetary systems.

We have now developed a novel way to find out if these systems have as yet undiscovered planets. We realized that with simple statistical rules about what is known about a given planetary system, we can estimate where yet undetermined planets may reside and how large they may be – such as guessing What pieces are missing from the partially completed puzzle. New analysis can direct new planetary discoveries, help complete maps of planetary systems in solar neighborhoods and inform future discoveries for life.

Setus Nakshatra.  Tau seiki is circled.  IAU and Sky and Telescope (image changed to add caption), CC BY