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'Star Trek' Planet Vulcan Exists And Astronomers Just Found It

Sep 19, 2018 10:37 PM EDT
Planet Vulcan
Artist's conception of an exoplanet that may be the real-world counterpart of the fictional planet Vulcan. Researchers recently found the actual planet orbiting the star HD 26965 or 40 Eridani A.
(Photo : NASA)

Trekkies alert: astronomers have stumbled on the famed planet Vulcan, the home of beloved character Spock and the rest of his species in Star Trek.

Sure, this newly discovered planet might not be home to a highly advanced Vulcan species, but it's interesting to note that Spock's home is a super-Earth that's in relatively close proximity.

Finding Planet Vulcan

Star Trek's Vulcan planet has long been associated with the real star HD 26965 or its alternative name 40 Eridani A by the franchise creators, according to a report from the University of Florida.

Now, in a study available online and set to be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers from the Dharma Planet Survey reveal that there is actually a real-life planet orbiting this star.

"The new planet is a 'super-Earth' orbiting the star HD 26965, which is only 16 light-years from Earth, making it the closest super-Earth orbiting another sun-like star," Jian Ge, study author and astronomer from the University of Florida, says in a statement, adding that it's about twice the size of Earth.

Vulcan completes its orbit around HD 26965 every 42 days. It's also located inside the star's habitable zone.

Potential For Life

While human-like Vulcans living in the planet may be too much to expect, the authors point out that the stellar conditions are actually optimal to support life due to its similarities to the sun.

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. It's slightly cooler and a bit less massive, but the two stars are approximately the same age. HD 26965 also has a 10.1-year magnetic cycle, which isn't too far from the sun's 11.6-year sunspot cycle.

Humanoids may or may not exist in the planet, but Muterspaugh says that HD 26965 may be an ideal star to host an advanced civilization.

The Dharma Planet Survey

The Dharma Planet Survey is a project that aims to find and characterize exoplanets in nearby sun-like stars. Detected by the Dharma Endowment Foundation Telescope, the planet is the first ever super-Earth detected by the project.

It is only fitting that Dharma should come across Vulcan, the home planet of the fictional sci-fi icon.

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

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