Star Trek's famous planet Vulcan does not actually exist
An exoplanet orbiting the star 40 Eridani and believed to be Star Trek’s Vulcan does not actually exist, according to a new study reported by Phys.org on Wednesday.
An international team of researchers found that its discovery was actually an error. The planet has been extremely popular since its appearance in the show Star Trek, introduced in 1996.
Captain Spock's planet of origin
It was the location of the birth of one of the show’s main stars: Captain Spock. Fans of the series rejoiced in knowing the planet may have actually existed in real life but now have to be disappointed.
The star the planet orbited does, however, exist and is called 40 Eridani A. Back in 2018, an exoplanet was discovered orbiting 40 Eridani A and was consecutively named 40 Eri b. This was the planet believed to be Vulcan.
However, as researchers were working their way through a list of exoplanets that NASA is considering for closer study, they stumbled on some issues concerning 40 Eri b (planet Vulcan).
The findings were not entirely unexpected as some astronomers had already questioned whether 40 Eri b was actually a planet shortly after it was first spotted.
The main reason behind their doubts was that it seemed unlikely that the duration of one orbit would be the same as the duration of a one-star rotation.
But others argued for the planet’s existence.
"Vulcan is remarkable because the idea of this little body inside the orbit of Mercury makes perfect sense," Tom Levenson, professor of science writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told National Geographic in 2015.
"If you believe Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity, which everyone does at that time, the discovery of a slight wobble in the middle of Mercury’s orbit that can’t be explained by the tug of Venus or Earth has only one interpretation: there has to be an undiscovered planet or flock of asteroids that we can’t see because it’s too close to the sun but must be exerting some gravitational influence on Mercury."
It was an analysis using radial velocity to study the wavelengths of light emitted from 40 Eridani that, at the time, proved Vulcan’s existence.
The new team, however, traced features of the light spectrum from the star only to find that the pull that had been observed was actually due to activity on the surface of the star, not the indication of an exoplanet, reported Phys.org.
Perhaps Star Trek fans can turn their attention to this planet that resembles Vulcan.