Astronomers at the University of Florida, Tennessee State University, and the University of Arizona, have detected a “super-Earth” around the star 40 Eridani A, the real-life star that also has the honorable distinction of being the home solar system of Vulcan from the Star Trek franchise.
But it’s not all good first-contact-that-propels-humanity-into-post-scarcity news. The paper detailing the discovery notes that the super-Earth is orbiting extremely closely to its star (its orbital period is only 42.4 days) and is thus entirely too hot to support life. Still, astronomers are only just now forming a detailed study of the system, and typically if there’s one confirmed exoplanet around a distant star, there tend to be multiple planets still awaiting discovery.
So anyway. Star Trek is real. Spock is real. Love is real.
Some fun facts:
- The name and location of the Vulcan system was made canonical by Gene Roddenberry in 1991, in conjunction with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The star was kept as Vulcan’s home and can be spotted in onscreen star maps in Star Trek: Discovery.
- Spock isn’t alive right now, but his great-grandfather Solkar is likely to have recently been born. (Solkar will later pilot the starship that the first contact Vulcans arrive in.)
- 40 Eridani A is actually a trinary system, although its other two stars are too far away from the primary star to make for really rad Tatooine-esque sunsets on Vulcan.
- NASA has been hoping to find an exoplanet around this star since 2007 because Vulcan is that awesome.
How many decades until first contact? Time to get around to living long and prosper…