Which is the most boring exoplanet?

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LAME. Wake me up when we find that planet from Star Trek where magic alien technology makes all your fantasies come true.


So far we haven’t really found the boring ones yet, as in the truly unremarkable inert lumps of stone in space doing nothing levels boring. So far everything has an interesting bit about it even if youhave to be insane to visit most of them.


Frank. Definitely Frank. That exoplanet just will not shut up. He drones on and on about how gassy he is and how bloated he feels. Damn it Frank. Shut up!


Interesting caption on that header image.

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Even the most macroscopically boring exoplanet is a treasure trove of microscopic petrographic data, seismic data about its interior, magnetic and gravimetric anomalies, possibly even mineral deposits (if it is not all-just-fucking-aluminium-silicates-wherever-you-look which would be interesting in its own way because where the other metals would go).

Whatever rock it is, sign me up.


I’m not sure picking one most boring planet is very meaningful; if you pick a few planets from the 2000 in Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia at random you likely won’t be too impressed with all you find. But I do think finding out what really makes planets boring, or at least normal, is the most interesting part of all this.

The press goes to the most extreme, unlikely-seeming, or at least earth-like places we find, and they’re generally fascinating. But what I am really looking forward to is the database becoming complete enough to trust statistics on it, to see how planets’ properties are distributed and what types count as ordinary. That’s what will tell us most about the universe and our place in it, how planetary systems typically work and develop.

For instance there was an interesting paper by Zoghbi, 2011 that found the orbital periods of planets were not randomly distributed, but tended to be half-integer multiples of the parent star’s rotation. We need to work out possible rules like that to really appreciate what’s not exceptional.


Theory: There are no boring exoplanets.

Proof: Assume the contrary. That means there is a least-interesting exoplanet. But hey, that’s pretty interesting! A contradiction. QED.


Oh we’ve had that for centuries. It’s called money. Unfortunately, we can’t all live there.


“Well it’s kind of cool to find such a large moon, but, let’s face it, so cold, so far from the Sun, and in the company of so many similar moons it must be dull, dull, dull. I mean really boring beyond belief. Apart from its size there couldn’t possibly be anything interesting about such a place. There’s no reason to believe anyone will ever have any interest in looking at it more closely, let alone going there if the technology to do so ever becomes available.”

–random internet poster responding to Christiaan Huygens’s announcement of the discovery of Titan.


Maybe it’s because I receive most of my Astronomy News from Phil Plait, but the vibe I’m getting is that Pluto is really, really, really interesting, and before New Horizons had its encounter, I’m not sure that this was expected.


And the fantasies turn out to be extremely sexist and stereotypical involving big hair and silly bras. Now that would be a boring planet indeed.


Nowadays things have to be “interesting” to justify the next round of funding. If CERN merely verifies the Standard Model to however many sigma are possible, someone will surely ask why any money was spent on it in the first place.


Sol-d … real boring.


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Seriously, who would come up with those fuzzy polyester things as the ultimate fantasy costume? Tribble fetish?


“I wish I’d had a chance to visit OGLE 2005 BLG-390Lb,”

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He’s a doctor, not a fashion designer!


My favourite quote from a player in a game of Traveller, “This planet’s shit.”