Real Planet Discovered Where Vulcan Home World in "Star Trek" Is Set

Mindy Sparks
September 21, 2018

It's slightly smaller, slightly cooler and only 16 light years away.

"This discovery demonstrates that fully dedicated telescopes conducting high-cadence, high-precision radial velocity observations in the near future will continue to play a key role in the discovery of more super-Earths and even Earth-like planets in the habitable zones around nearby stars", concluded Ge. But it also has some clear similarities to Earth's star: It's about the same age and sports a fairly similar sunspot pattern.

It marks the first so-called super-Earth to be found by the Dharma Survey.

Since the show's writer associated Vulcan with a real star, named 40 Eridani A, curious scientists and sci-fi fans alike have wanted to find out if there actually is a planet equivalent to Vulcan in the star's orbit. The discovery marks the project's first detection of a "super-Earth", classified as a planet between two and ten times as massive as our own.

Star Trek character Spock originated from the fictional planet Vulcan, which was said to (probably) exist in real life orbiting around the star 40 Eridani A. That prediction was made in 1991 by series creator Gene Roddenberry and a trio of astronomers, and now decades later it has been proven mostly true: a planet at that location has been discovered.

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.

Okay, so, Star Trek is science fiction.

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.

HD 26965 is an orange dwarf star, only slightly cooler and slightly less massive than our sun, with a 10.1-year magnetic activity cycle that's almost identical to our sun's 11.6-year sunspot cycle.

"'Vulcan was connected to 40 Eridani A in the publications "Star Trek 2" by James Blish (Bantam, 1968) and "Star Trek Maps" by Jeff Maynard (Bantam, 1980)"'. "Spock served on the starship Enterprise, whose mission was to seek out odd new worlds, a mission shared by the Dharma Planet Survey".

'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.

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. Of course, Spock himself said men sometimes see exactly what they wish to see.

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