Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Researchers discover planet Vulcan from Star Trek - sort of

Elijah Vega | 22 September, 2018, 16:43

The Dharma Planet Survey, which is looking for low-mass planets around bright nearby stars, reports in a paper due to appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that the putative "Vulcan"-officially known as HD 26965b (and shown above in an artist's illustration)-is eight times the mass of Earth".

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.

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. It spends 43 days of its orbit in the habitable zone of its star so life may be found on its surface.

This makes this newly-found planet the first found by the Dharma Planet Survey, which is on a lookout for planets around close-by stars, clearly with hopes of finding more.

40 Eridani is a real-life orange dwarf star, ranging about 4 billion years in age, about the same as our sun. The discovery was made using the 50-inch Dharma Endowment Foundation Telescope, atop Mt. Lemmon in southern Arizona using non-visual spectroscopy, which separates and measures the light from stars.

"This star can be seen with the naked eye", continues the researcher.

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As NBC also reported, it is possible that the planet has an atmosphere.

Ge stated the exoplanet is most likely to have an environment and to be tidally secured to its host star.

This discovery is critical for scientists in and of itself.

Newfound exoplanet orbits a star identified with the famed science officer from "Star Trek".

"Star Trek fans may know the star HD 26965 by its alternative moniker, 40 Eridani A", says Henry, who collected precise brightness measurements of the star at TSU's automated observatory needed to confirm the presence of the planet. In addition to being the nearest super-Earth orbiting another star, it could be compared to the famous planet Vulcan planet, found in the universe of Star Trek - the home planet of Mr. Spock. In a letter published in the periodical "Sky and Telescope" in July 1991, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, along with Sallie Baliunas, Robert Donahue, and George Nassiopoulos of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics confirmed the identification of 40 Eridani A as Vulcan's host star. In contrast Epsilon Eridani is barely 1 billion years old.

Based on the history of life on Earth, life on any planet around Epsilon Eridani would not have had time to evolve beyond the level of bacteria. Although not mentioned in the original TV series or later feature films, a number of stars had been put forward by Trekkies as the likely locale of Vulcan. Presumably Vulcan orbits the primary star, an orange main-sequence dwarf of spectral type K1.

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