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Exoplanets Obey Benford's Law

Thomas Hair (Florida Gulf Coast University) has analyzed data on the mass of confirmed exoplanets and found that the figures are in keeping with the statistical phenomenon called Benford's law.

Benford's law, which specifies the probabilities of the first digits of numbers in certain sets having particular values, has been used to detect financial fraud, since books that have been cooked seldom display the expected frequencies. 

Hair's study, then, boosts confidence in the work of the planet hunters. As Hair explains:

The close fit with Benford's law gives a confirmation to experts' belief that most of the candidates are valid.

Read New Scientist's coverage.

Start Date: 
Wednesday, December 18, 2013