Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Do the exoplanets follow Benford's distribution?


Shukla et al


In many real life situations, it is observed that the first digits (i.e., 1,2,…,9) of a numerical data-set, which is expressed using decimal system, do not follow a random distribution. Instead, smaller numbers are favoured by nature in accordance with a logarithmic distribution law, which is referred to as Benford's law. The existence and applicability of this empirical law have been extensively studied by physicists, accountants, computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, etc., and it has been observed that a large number of data-sets related to diverse problems follow this distribution. However, applicability of Benford's law has been hardly tested for extrasolar objects. Motivated by this fact, this paper investigates the existence of Benford's distribution in the extrasolar world using Kepler data for exoplanets. The investigation has revealed the presence of Benford's distribution in various physical properties of these exoplanets. Further, Benford goodness parameters are computed to provide a quantitative measure of coincidence of real data with the ideal values obtained from Benford's distribution. The quantitative analysis and the plots have revealed that several physical parameters associated with the exoplanets (e.g., mass, volume, density, orbital semi-major axis, orbital period, and radial velocity) nicely follow Benford's distribution, whereas some physical parameters (e.g., total proper motion, stellar age and stellar distance) moderately follow the distribution, and some others (e.g., longitude, radius, and effective temperature) do not follow Benford's distribution. Further, some specific comments have been made on the possible generalizations of the obtained result, its potential applications in analyzing data-set of candidate exoplanets, and how interested readers can perform similar investigations on other interesting data-sets.

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