Could we soon meet Mr. Spock in real life? Unlikely, but we did just get one step closer to discovering his home planet.
Astronomers led by the University of Florida’s Jian Ge, Ph.D., working out of Arizona’s DEFT telescope, have discovered a planet orbiting the main star of a tri-star system 16 light years away known as 40 Eridani. That star system should ring a bell to anyone who’s ever done a deep dive into Star Trek canon, as it is the official solar system where the planet Vulcan is said to exist. And as cool as it is that there’s actually a planet where Vulcan is supposed to be, just wait, because it gets better.
The planet is what’s known as a “super-Earth,” meaning that it’s more massive than our home planet but shares a number of characteristics, making it more similar to Earth than to gas giants like Jupiter. The planet also lies in the optimal habitable zone in its orbit, meaning that it has the right temperature to support liquid water. Finally, the specific star the planet orbits in 40 Eridani — HD 26965, AKA 40 Eridani A — is very similar to our own sun, and would be the “ideal host star for an advanced civilization,” according to a statement by one of the astronomers, Tennessee State University’s Matthew Muterspaugh, whose findings were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
So what does all this mean? Well, in the exact spot where Spock’s home planet Vulcan exists in the Star Trek universe, there is an actual planet that appears to have all the necessary ingredients to host an advanced, possibly pointy-eared, alien civilization. And while the planet doesn’t appear to have an official name yet, calling it anything other than “Vulcan” would be highly illogical.