SALT LAKE CITY― Scientists at the University of Florida and Tennessee State University have discovered what just might be a dream come true for many “Star Trek” fans.
According to UF’s news site, astronomers working on the Dharma Planet Survey have found a new exoplanet that is orbiting the star HD 26965, or “40 Eridani A,” which is a star better known to “Star Trek” fans as the “sun” of fictional character Spock’s home planet Vulcan.
In 1991, “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry said that the real-life star 40 Eridani A would be “the ideal star to host Vulcan,” according to CNN.
Now, that might actually be the case.
According to NBC, the newly discovered planet is officially being called HD 26965b, a title that is in line with naming guidelines set forth by the International Astronomical Union.
But that could change if Jian Ge, the University of Florida astronomer tasked with leading the study, has his way. Should the union allow it, the planet will be renamed Vulcan.
“The new planet is a ‘super-Earth’ orbiting the star [40 Eridani A], which is only 16 light years from Earth, making it the closest super-Earth orbiting another Sun-like star,” said Ge.
The “super-Earth” is about twice the size of our planet, but according to CNN, it’s still much smaller than any of the “gas giants” located in our solar system.6 comments on this story
As NBC also reported, it is possible that the planet has an atmosphere. However, this new “Vulcan” does not rotate in its orbit, which may affect the chances of finding any living organisms on it.
“[O]ne side perpetually faces the star while the other side points away. If this is the case, the side facing the host star would likely be very hot,” said the report.
So hot, that it probably wouldn’t be about to sustain life.
But Ge said there’s hope for the cooler side of the planet, which might actually be habitable.
"On the other hand, life can also survive underground. Like what 'Star Trek' imagines, Vulcans stay in the caves," Ge said.