Published: Fri, September 21, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Life imitates art? Astronomers find Star Trek planet Vulcan

Life imitates art? Astronomers find Star Trek planet Vulcan

"If you watch the movie 'Interstellar, ' or some other movies, people talk about in the future space travel, they all talk about like maybe 30 or 40 years you can travel to another system", Ge said.

Now, in what may be one of human history's strangest coincidences, a planet meeting similar criteria and located at the same distance has been discovered by the Dharma Planet Survey. "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.

In 1991, Gene Roddenberry wrote a letter to Sky & Telescope about what kind of star the planet Vulcan was likely to orbit. "Therefore", he adds, "HD 26965 may be an ideal host star for an advanced civilization".

Planet Vulcan is the home to Star Trek's Spock, which doesn't exist.

"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", explains Muterspaugh, who helped to commission the Dharma spectrograph on the TSU 2-meter automatic spectroscopic telescope.

The new research is described in a paper posted to the preprint server on July 18 and scheduled for publication in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society next month. The star is also about the same age as the Sun (4 billion years old), allowing intelligent life to evolve from more than just bacteria.

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Unfortunately for Star Trek fans, it's unlikely that the planet will end up being named Vulcan. The planet itself doesn't look quite as appealing as the star, because this world seems to orbit a little too close to its sun to be in the habitable zone where liquid water can be retained on the surface.

This also makes this newly-discovered planet the first ever found by the Dharma Planet Survey, which is created to hunt planets around nearby stars.

This star can be seen with the unaided eye, unlike the host stars of most of the known planets discovered to date.

"Now, anyone can see 40 Eridani on a clear night and be proud to point to Spock's home", said postdoctoral student Bo Ma.

Bottom line: Astronomers have found a planet in the habitable zone of 40 Eridani A, which many Star Trek fans identified as the home star of Mr. Spock. As reported by the online edition of the with reference to a planet twice the size of Earth and revolves around its star in 42 days. Live long and prosper, we say.

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