“It’s so exciting! Star Trek imagined this planet Vulcan, and now we’ve found this planet,” said Jian Ge, an astronomer at the University of Florida, and the co-author of a new study.
However, the planet in question, HD 26965, even though it’s not officially known as Vulcan and apparently doesn’t house green-blooded aliens on it, orbits a Sun-like star found about 16-light-years away from the Earth that was claimed by Gene Roddenberry, the Star Trek creator, as the host star for his fictional planet Vulcan, the world of origin for Mr. Spock.
The new exoplanet orbits 40 Eridani A, a part of a triple-star system, located in the constellation Eridanus, near Orion, which is visible during the winter in the northern hemisphere.
“Greg Henry, one of the co-authors, he pointed out, ‘That’s great, we found Vulcan around this star that was chosen in Star Trek.’ It was an amazing coincidence,” added Jian Ge.
Might the real planet Vulcan house extraterrestrial life?
Well, the real Vulcan, a super-Earth planet (a rocky exoplanet more massive than the Earth), orbits around 40 Eridani A which is a star very similar to ours. 40 Eridani A, just like our Sun, is about 4 billion years old and presents a very similar solar cycle of increased and decreased solar activity once every 10.1 years. The Sun has a comparable period of high and low solar activity but once every 11.6 years.
“Therefore, HD 26965 [the real planet Vulcan] may be an ideal host for an advanced civilization,” said Matthew Muterspaugh from the Tennessee State University.
However, there is one big obstacle for life to evolve on HD 26965, which can only be tackled if certain conditions are met at the same time. Namely, the real Vulcan is tidally locked to its host star. Therefore, on one side of the planet there is a perpetual day, while in the other hemisphere, there is always night.
According to Jian Ge, that’s not a big problem, but, in reality, the HD 26965 exoplanet might be too dry (again like the Vulcan planet in the Star Trek series) to host extraterrestrial life.