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Give M a break

March 23rd, 2009

Last weekend, I got e-mail from an A-list planet hunter who wrote in support of the little guys:

Why punish beloved M-dwarfs?

The last factor, currently written in terms of V, might be rewritten in terms of a less pejorative magnitude, like I or Z. Most stars in the Galaxy put their best (and brightest) foot forward at 1um!

Hard-working red dwarfs, like Barnard’s star or Proxima Centauri get the short end of the stick in the Oklo terrestrial planet valuation formula. Red dwarfs put out the bulk of their radiation in the near-infrared, rather than the optical, but dollar value is pegged to apparent magnitude in the V-band.

This leaves me in a position similar to that of a company spokesman trying to justify Wall Street bonuses.

“The fact of the matter, is that as a society, our planet-hunting values and priorities have been traditionally tied to the optical range of the spectrum. If we examine the resources that have been deployed to date, over a billion dollars have been spent on satellite-based planet-hunting programs that monitor stellar output in visible light. In the same way that an executive’s compensation is tied to the value that he or she brings to shareholders, a terrestrial planet’s value should therefore be tied to V-band magnitude.”

Flimsy, I admit. Therefore, in the interest of fairness, the first planet-hunting group or individual that discovers a planet worth USD 1M with Z-band apparent magnitude replacing V-band will receive an oklo.org T-shirt.

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  1. March 23rd, 2009 at 21:02 | #1

    Out of interest is it possible to predict what the temperatures of the pulsar planets would be? Wonder how they turn out in the valuation…

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