Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry & co. were pretty darn good at predicting certain technological advancements (still waiting on that transporter tech, though), but predicting the discovery of a planet in a specific location Vulcan is send to be in Star Trek canon is reason to think Roddenberry may have actually been a time traveler.
According to Popular Science, astrophysicists just found a planet orbiting the star HD 26965 that is where Roddenberry described the planet of Vulcan, aka Spock’s homeworld, to be located. Even better? The exoplanet is in the star’s “habitable zone,” which means there is a possibility liquid water could exist on its surface.
“The new planet is a ‘super-Earth’ orbiting the star HD 26965, which is only 16 light years from Earth, making it the closest super-Earth orbiting another Sun-like star,” lead author of a paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Jian Ge said in a statement. “The planet is roughly twice the size of Earth and orbits its star with a 42-day period just inside the star’s optimal habitable zone.”
HD 26965 also goes by the name of 40 Eridani, and was first suggested as a possible Vulcan in a collection of short stories called Star Trek 2, originally published in 1968. The collection, written by James Blish, was adapted from episodes of The Original Series. Star Trek Maps, published in 1980, also used 40 Eridani as Vulcan’s sun. In 1991, Roddenberry co-authored a letter alongside three Harvard astrophysicists that was published in Sky and Telescope, making the hypothesis canon.
“This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launch of two important enterprises,” wrote Roddenberry (on pages five and six of the magazine). “One is the HK Project at Mount Wilson Observatory, where astronomers have been monitoring surface magnetic activity on EDO solar-type stars to understand our own Sun’s magnetic history. The other is the starship Enterprise on the television series Star Trek. Surprisingly, the two have more in common than their silver anniversaries.”
According to the letter, Roddenberry and his gaggle of astrophysicist friends determined that 40 Eridani A made a better real-world counterpart for the fictional planet’s sun than Epsilon Eridani because of its age. While 40 Eridani A was 4 billion years old (a similar age to Earth’s 4.5 billion years), Epsilon Eridani was only a sprightly 1 billion—the logic being that Epsilon Eridani wouldn’t have had time to evolve complex and advanced life forms like the Vulcan civilization.
We don’t know much about this real-world Vulcan (we probably shouldn’t call it that), but NASA’s TESS satellite is slated to be looking at 40 Eridani A later this year. We’ll keep you updated on if they notice any pointy ears or Ethan Peck. You can spend the intervening time, catching up on Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 in anticipation for the second season.