# Is This a New Property I Have Found Pertaining to Mersenne Primes?

While playing with Mersenne numbers, I found the following property distinguishing Mersenne prime numbers from Mersenne composite numbers.

A Mersenne number, $$\text{M}p$$, is a number of the form $$2^p - 1$$, where $$p$$ is prime.

## Property

For $$p > 2$$, Mersenne primes can be expressed as \begin{align*} \text{M}p = \frac{a^3 + b^3}{a + b}\text{,} \end{align*} where $$a$$ and $$b$$ are integers, $$a \neq -b$$, with exactly $$12$$ different solutions. So far, also $$\operatorname{gcd}(a,b)=1$$ holds for Mersenne primes.

Mersenne composites have either no integer solution or more than $$12$$ solutions ($$24$$ so far). Also $$\operatorname{gcd}(a,b)=1$$ does not hold if the integer solutions exist so far.

## Examples

\begin{align*} \text{M}5 &= \frac{6^3 + 5^3}{11} = 31 \\ \text{M}7 &= 7^3 - 6^3 = 127 \end{align*}

The M11 has no integer solution for $$(a,b)$$.

The M37 has 24 solutions and also $$\operatorname{gcd}(a,b)=1$$ does not hold.

## Remarks

• Except the M2, twelve solutions exist for each Mersenne prime. If $$(a,b)$$ is a solution, then also $$(-a,-b)$$, $$(b,a)$$, and $$(-b,-a)$$ are.

• Since \begin{align*} \frac{a^3 + b^3}{a + b} = a^2 -ab + b^2 \text{,} \end{align*} each Mersenne prime has an ellipse intersecting integer grid associated with it. For example, $$-a^2 + ab - b^2 + 127 = 0$$ is the ellipse for M7.

## Results

Solutions for the first few Mersenne numbers: $$\begin{matrix} p & \text{M}p & (a,b) \\ \hline 2 & 3 & (1,2) \\ 3 & 7 & (1,-2), (1,3), (2,3) \\ 5 & 31 & (1,-5), (1,6), (5,6) \\ 7 & 127 & (6,-7), (6,13), (7,13) \\ 11 & 2047 & \text{no solution} \\ 13 & 8191 & (1,-90), (1,91), (90,91) \\ 17 & 131071 & (6,-359), (6,365), (359,365) \\ 19 & 524287 & (83,-679), (83, 762), (679, 762) \\ 23 & 8388607 & \text{no solution} \\ 29 & 536870911 & \text{no solution} \\ 31 & 2147483647 & (4698, 43813), (4698,48511), (43813, 48511) \\ 37 & 137438953471 & \text{24 solutions} \\ 41 & 2199023255551 & \text{no solution} \\ 43 & 8796093022207 & \text{no solution} \\ ... & ... & ... \\ \end{matrix}$$

I have verified the conjecture using WolframAlpha for all $$p$$ below 100.

## Question

Can you confirm this result? Is this known? Any feedback is welcome.

As you observe, this is about representing $$M_p$$ by the quadratic form $$a^2-ab+b^2$$. That is the norm of the quadratic integer $$a+b\omega$$ where $$\omega =\frac12(-1+i\sqrt3)$$. A prime $$q$$ with $$q\equiv1\pmod 3$$ always has twelve representations by this form: there are two ideals of norm $$q$$ in $$\Bbb Z[\omega]$$ and each has six different generators. Indeed there is a formula for the number of representations $$q$$ by this in terms of the factorisation of $$q$$. The number of representations is only $$12$$ if $$q=q'm^2$$ where $$q'$$ is a prime congruent to $$1$$ modulo $$3$$ and the prime factors of $$m$$ are all congruent to $$2$$ modulo $$3$$. I can't see why it's impossible for a Mersenne number to have such a factorisation with $$m>1$$, but it does seem rather unlikely.
• Nice answer! In any case, every Mersenne composite (Mersenne number that is composite) I have tested so far has either 24 solutions or no solution at all. Mersenne primes always have 12 solutions of the form $(a^3 + b^3)/(a + b)$ a no solution of the form $(a^2 + b^2)/(a + b)$. Is there any reason for non-existence of this second form? Feb 28 '19 at 17:24