A new theory proposed by Matthias He and Lauren Weiss and published on the arXiv preprint server could help astronomers in their search for giant planets. It is based on combining two sets of data used to search for exoplanets – transits and radial velocity measurements. Previously, these data were separate, making it difficult to understand how these methods would work together.
The researchers examined potential control markers that might indicate the presence of a giant planet in an exoplanet system. They found a statistically significant correlation with the gap complexity index, which measures the change in the distance between planets’ orbits. In systems with high complexity, the probability of having a giant planet is significantly higher than in systems with low complexity.
For an accurate calculation, however, the method only requires analysis of systems with three inner planets or with two planets in the inner solar system, if a gas giant is included in the complexity calculation. Despite this, the new theory could be a useful tool for astronomers in the search for giant planets.