$\mathrm{Per}_n $ is an affine algebraic curve, defined over $\mathbb Q$, parametrizing (up to change of coordinates) degree-2 self-morphisms of $\mathbb P^1$ with an $n$-periodic ramification point. The $n$-th Gleason polynomial $G_n$ is a polynomial in one variable with $\mathbb Z$-coefficients, whose vanishing locus parametrizes (up to change of coordinates) degree-2 self-morphisms of $\mathbb C$ with an $n$-periodic ramification point. Two long-standing open questions in complex dynamics are: (1) Is $\mathrm{Per}_n$ connected? (2) Is $G_n$ irreducible over $\mathbb Q$?

We show that if $G_n$ is irreducible over $\mathbb Q$, then $\mathrm{Per}_n$ is irreducible over $\mathbb C$, and is therefore connected. In order to do this, we find a $\mathbb Q$-rational smooth point of a projective completion of $\mathrm{Per}_n$. This $\mathbb Q$-rational smooth point represents a special degeneration of degree-2 morphisms, and as such admits an interpretation in terms of tropical geometry.

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Last updated: 23 Feb 2024