The Smithers Divide

     During late winter, 2015, researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz first witnessed evidence for The Smithers Divide during research on the planetary stability of binary star systems. 


Here, the x-axis shows the ratio comparing the planet’s semi-major axis to the stars’ semi-major axes. The y-axis represents the eccentricity of the stars’ orbits. The colorbar at the right allows us to see how “stable” the planet’s orbit is. 

On the lower-left hand side, we can see a conspicuous stability!  

    At first, this seemed to be merely the by-product of experimental error, or approximations of the system. To test this, the researchers continued their work.

    As higher resolution data of the area became available, it became clear that this is not just an error, but rather some strange phenomena not yet understood.