Spock’s planet ‘Vulcan’ found years after Star Trek prediction

James Marshall
September 21, 2018

Now, a survey called the Dharma Planet Survey has discovered that 40 Eridani does indeed have a planet, one that's eight times the mass of Earth.

The habitable zone is the range of orbits around a star in which a planet can support liquid water. The new find is also the first so-called super-Earth discovered by the Dharma Planet Survey, which is created to hunt down relatively small planets around relatively bright stars. But in a 1991 essay, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and a group of astronomers argued that 40 Eridani A, the brightest star in a triple-star system, was a better fit because its 4 billion years of existence provided a wider window for pointy-eared intelligent life to evolve.

In the "Star Trek" universe, the star 40 Eridani A (alias HD 26965) has always been canon as the sun of Vulcan, the home world of the franchise's favorite pointy-eared science officer, Mr. Spock.

"Spock served on the starship Enterprise, whose mission was to seek out unusual new worlds, a mission shared by the Dharma Planet Survey", Gregory Henry, study author and another astronomer from the Tennessee State University, says.

Matthew Muterspaugh, study author and an astronomer from the Tennessee State University, reveals that the orange-hued star HD 26965 shares a lot of properties with the sun. The discovery was made using the Dharma Endowment Foundation Telescope (DEFT), a 50-inch telescope located atop Mt. Lemmon in southern Arizona.

'The orange-tinted HD 26965 is only slightly cooler and slightly less massive than our sun, is approximately the same age as our sun, and has a 10.1-year magnetic cycle almost identical to the sun's 11.6-year sunspot cycle, ' says Tennessee State University (TSU) astronomer Matthew Muterspaugh. "I did not realise at the time because they published the star under a different name, but WE FOUND A PLANET AROUND 40 ERIDANI A", she tweeted after hearing the news.

As a "Star Trek" fan, Ge found the Vulcan connection interesting. Vulcan orbits the primary star, and the two companion stars "would gleam brilliantly in the Vulcan sky", they wrote in their 1991 letter.

A senior astronomer at the SETI Institute claimed super-Earths "could very well be the sort of world where life could begin", opined Seth Shostak, but quickly added that the notion of Spock-like creatures abounding on the planet would be highly illogical.

'This star can be seen with the naked eye, unlike the host stars of most of the known planets discovered to date, ' says lead author Bo Ma, a UF postdoc on the team.

The Dharma Planet Survey is a project that aims to find and characterize exoplanets in nearby sun-like stars. "Now, anyone can see 40 Eridani A on a clear night and be proud to point out Spock's home".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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