2021 Issue

The Existential Threat of Future Exoplanet Discoveries

Michael B. Lund

The last 25 years have been revolutionary in astronomy, as the field of exoplanets has gone from no known planets outside the Solar System to thousands discovered over the last year few years. This represents a rapid increase not just in known planets (often referred to as Mamajek's Law), but also in total planetary mass. What has been heretofore unaddressed, however, is that this rapid increase in planetary masses may have disastrous consequences for the future of humanity. We look at how the number of planets, and more importantly, the mass of these planets has changed in the past and how we can expect this to change in the future. The answers to those questions, and how we respond to them, will determine if humanity is able to survive beyond the next 230 years.