Star Trek: Astronomers Discover Real-Life Planet Vulcan.
Real-life astronomers may have just discovered the real-life planet Vulcan, the homeworld of the Vulcan race from Star Trek and its most famous member, Spock.
While the exact location of the planet Vulcan in the Star Trek universe has been kept fuzzy for the most part, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and a few astronomers wrote to Sky & Telescope magazine in 1991 to suggest where the planet might be hidden.
“The star around which Vulcan orbits was never identified in the original series or in any of the feature films based on it and so has never been officially established,” Roddenberry and his compatriots wrote. But, “We prefer the identification of 40 Eridani as Vulcan’s sun.”
40 Eridani is an orange dwarf-star that is estimated to have existed for 4 billion years, roughly the same amount of time as scientists believe our sun has existed. Roddenberry and the astronomers figured that meant there would be plenty of time for another civilization of humanoid, intelligent life to evolve.
“Presumably Vulcan orbits the primary star, an orange main-sequence dwarf of spectral type K1,” Roddenberry and the astronomers wrote.
More recently, a survey titled the Dharma Planet Survey discovered that there is a planet orbiting 40 Eridani. The planet is eight times the mass of Earth and likely too-hot to support human or even Vulcan life.
“The world is a super-Earth, the most common type of planet in the galaxy (though a type that’s missing from our solar system),” Sky & Telescope reports.
Comparisons to Vulcan are all in good fun – we assume no one actually expects to find a race of hyper-logical being with psychic powers living there – but fans are loving it. For example, Dr. Jessie Christiansen is a NASA research scientist and a Trekkie and she seemed pretty excited.
“GUYS WAIT WHOA WHOA WHOA. 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. “THAT’S WHERE SPOCK IS FROM. VULCAN ORBITS 40 ERIDANI A. WHAT”
As for it not being inhabitable, Christiansen isn’t giving up hope.
“This new planet is much too hot to be habitable, but where there’s one planet…”
The search continues…