Without Spock, there would be no Star Trek and without Star Trek, we wouldn't have come across Vulcan. The Starship Enterprise's part-Vulcan officer always captivated the audiences and he knew how to keep Captain Kirk in check while embarking upon the new journeys to the places where no man has gone before. Now, it appears that humans have actually found out Spock's home planet Vulcan.
Reportedly, astronomers have found something that they believe is an exoplanet reminiscent Star Trek's planet Vulcan. The exoplanet is actually pretty close to us. It's orbiting a star in a system that's only 16 light-years away from our home planet Earth.
The experts published the detailed study in the Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society, according to which, this is the first ever super-Earth discovery by the Dharma Planet Survey and Dharma Endowment Foundation Telescope. This Vulcan-like planet is also "the closest super-Earth orbiting another Sun-like star," stated the study author Jian Ge. Ge is an astronomer from the University of Florida.
Super-Earths are supposed to have a mass that is far greater than that of Earth but smaller than that of the gigantic, gaseous planets. This newly found one's mass is twice that of our home planet and it orbits its host star "with a 42-day period just inside the star's optimal habitable zone," stated the astronomer.
Essentially, when we see a planet within the habitable zone of its star system; it means liquid water can be seen on the surface, which, in turn, indicates that the planet could host life as we know it.
The planet of our interest orbits an orange-tinted star, named HD 26965. This star is only a little cooler and smaller in size than our sun. Another study author Matthew Muterspaugh stated that this star also has a similar magnetic cycle as our sun. Muterspaugh is an astronomer from the Tennessee State University. "Therefore, HD 26965 may be an ideal host star for an advanced civilization."
The Star Trek fans know of another star by the name 40 Eridani A. Now, this star is very real and the Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry also confirmed that this, indeed, is the host star of the great Vulcan, the home of Spock. In 1991, Roddenberry and some Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomers wrote in a "letter to the editor" in Sky and Telescope that 40 Eridani A would be the perfect star to host Vulcan.
"Presumably Vulcan orbits the primary star, an orange main-sequence dwarf of spectral type K1. ... Two companion stars -- a 9th magnitude white dwarf and an 11th magnitude red dwarf -- orbit each other about 400 astronomical units from the primary. They would gleam brilliantly in the Vulcan sky," they wrote in the letter.
So, what's the connection?
Well, the newly found planet is situated at the exact place, where Roddenberry and the astronomers Sallie Baliunas, Robert Donahue and George Nassiopoulos had imagined Vulcan to be.
"Spock served on the starship Enterprise, whose mission was to seek out strange new worlds, a mission shared by the Dharma Planet Survey," said Tennessee State University astronomer Gregory Henry like a true Star Trek fan. He is also another author of the study.
Well, all we can say to this new planet and its possible extraterrestrial society is "live long and prosper."