Sorry Trekkies: Bad news for the ‘real-life Vulcan’

Scientists Catherine Laliotis and Jennifer Burt don’t set out to piss Triquez up with their new study of exoplanets in other solar systems.

It just so happens that Data directs them and the rest of the research team to Logic – He should Logical – the conclusion, they said.

five years ago, published paper(Opens in a new tab) in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society It reported a planet orbiting a star about 16 light years away. The star was 40 Eridani. This may not be a name everyone will be familiar with, but fans of the original are Star Trek The series identifies him as the host star of Spock’s fictional planet, Vulcan.

The problem is that after re-analysis, the new team found that the discovery was most likely an error. It’s true: they couldn’t let Spock long live and thrive in a real world. They had to go and erase his home planet from existence.

“We apologize for that,” Burt told Mashable. “We will find other wonderful planets.”

their search, accepted for publication(Opens in a new tab) in The Astronomical Journalaims to support NASAfuture Habitable Worlds Observatory(Opens in a new tab)which is a task that might use a file space A telescope for imaging Earth-like planets around relatively close stars. The project, which has been decades in the making, aims to study these temperate worlds for signs of life. It is scheduled for release sometime in the 40’s.

In the science fiction series Star Trek, Spock came from Vulcan, a planet said to orbit 40 Eridani, an actual star in the Milky Way.
Credit: CBS via Getty Images

The group took to looking at a massive public statement release for consideration outer planets(Opens in a new tab) in the southern hemisphere. Their goal was to find some of the best bets for a future telescope. In the process, they found that some previously documented exoplanets were potential errors.

One of these was 40 Eri b, which is the official name given to Planet Vulcan by the original authors. The new paper officially refutes it.

Planet Vulcan discovered in 2018

In 2018, the original authors Description of an exoplanet(Opens in a new tab) As the nearest planet to Earth orbiting another star similar to the sun. It was said to be twice the size of Earth with 42 days within the star’s habitable zone. a Super Earth(Opens in a new tab) It is a type of planet ten times larger than our blue marble but lighter than ice giants like Neptune and Uranus.

Any rocky planet within this Milky Way system would have it Three sunsets(Opens in a new tab) Because 40 Eridani actually includes three stars orbiting each other.

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“We will find other wonderful planets.”

A super-Earth orbiting 40 Eridani

Researchers publish the discovery of a planet where Vulcan is set in Star Trek.
Credit: University of Florida

Use Laliotis, Burt, and the rest of the new team radial velocity(Opens in a new tab) To check solar energy systems for viable candidates. It is an exoplanet detection method that looks for subtle changes in the frequency of starlight as seen from Earth. The gravitational pull of an orbiting planet is thought to cause a slight fluctuation in the measurements of light.

Their analysis found indicative features stellar activity(Opens in a new tab)not evidence of an extrasolar planet.

“They will look like planetary signs, but they’re actually not a planet,” said Laliotis, who was a NASA intern during the research and is now working on her Ph.D. at Ohio State University. “It’s something like little spots on the surface of a star.”

It is not known whether the original researchers who published the exoplanet discovery agree with the new analysis. Mashable’s attempts to reach the first two University of Florida authors were unsuccessful.

The search for an Earth-like exoplanet continues

Since word broke of the new findings, the scientists involved have been somewhat elated by fans, including family members. Laliotis said that her father proceeded to give her a lesson in the “history” of Vulcan, explaining that the planet was heading for destruction, but that wasn’t supposed to happen for a few more centuries.

Burt, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said her mother refused to read the article.

“My mom used to show you,” she said. She confirmed that this is why I am an astronomer. She said, “I watched a lot of Star Trek when I was pregnant, and that obviously came.”

The Starship Enterprise flies through space

The starship Enterprise allowed Star Trek characters to search for life on outer planets.
Credit: CBS via Getty Images

Despite their findings, Laliotis said, the search for Spock’s home could continue. Although they may not have a spaceship project To search for them, more sensitive instruments and detection methods may in the near future make it possible to find another smaller exoplanet in this star system – perhaps more Earth-like – to rename Vulcan.

After all, if the discovery of 40 Eri b is correct, it would be far too hot for life as we know it.

“There is still hope that there might be a Vulcan out there,” she said. “This is actually perhaps promising that there might be a better Vulcan out there.”

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