A ‘super-Earth’ discovered orbiting a star 16 light years away from us, could be the Star Trek’s famed planet Vulcan – home of the beloved character of Spock from the popular TV series.
The discovery was made using the Dharma Endowment Foundation Telescope (DEFT), a 50-inch telescope located atop Mt Lemmon in southern Arizona, US. The planet is the first ‘super-Earth’ detected by the Dharma Survey.
Star Trek creators associated planet Vulcan with a real star, called 40 Eridani A. Scientists from University of Florida (UF) and Tennessee State University (TSU) in the US have now found that the star indeed hosts at least one planet.
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 nearly identical to the Sun’s 11.6-year sunspot cycle, researchers said.
In a letter published in the periodical ‘Sky and Telescope’ in July 1991, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, along with scientists of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics confirmed the identification of 40 Eridani A as Vulcan’s host star.
The 40 Eridani star system is composed of three stars. Vulcan orbits the primary star, and the two companion stars ‘would gleam brilliantly in the Vulcan sky,’ they wrote in their 1991 letter.