Columbus (USA) – In 2018, American astronomers reported the discovery of a so-called super-Earth orbiting the star “40 Eridani A” even within its habitable zone. While the star may only be known by its scientific name to those familiar with astronomy, it is best known to a larger audience as the principal sun of Mr. Spock from the planet “Vulcan” from the Star Trek TV and movie series. The planet’s discoverers have now reported that the signal wasn’t a planet after all.
In 2018, the team led by Jian Ji of the University of Florida previously reported via ArXix.org and in a subsequent issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that they had found a planet around 40 Eridani A (HD 26965). He is said to have discovered the so-called super-Earth, a planet several times the size and mass of Earth. This planet, which at that time had already received the designation “40 Eridani b”, should be twice as massive but eight to nine times heavier than Earth. This would place it on the genre boundary between a rock and a gaseous planet. The planet should also orbit its star only once every 42 days at the inner limit of its habitable zone (…GreWi mentioned). The habitable zone is the distance a planet must orbit its star for liquid water — and thus at least the basis for life on Earth — to exist due to moderate surface temperatures.
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But the team led by Katherine Laliotis of Ohio State University is reporting tentatively via ArXiv.org on the results of investigations of several nearby stars and planets there — including 40 Eridani. The 42-day orbital period initially observed is actually due to activity in the star itself rather than a star orbiting it. Indeed, critics had previously expressed skepticism about the indirect planetary detection, since the documented orbital period corresponds exactly with the period of the star’s activity.
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Also known as “Keid,” this is a triple star system made up of the 40 Eridani stars A, B, and C in the constellation Eridanus about 16 light-years from Earth, making the planet our closest terrestrial planet and ideal for further observations. He was.
Background: Spock’s house star?
While Star Trek fans have long wondered which star might be the home star of the fictional planet and Mr. Spock’s home world of Vulcan, in July 1991, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry teamed up with astronomers Sallie Baliunas, Robert Donahue, and George Nassiopoulos of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center For astrophysics in a letter to the editor of the American magazine “Sky & Telescope” for “40 Eridani A” and therefore against the alternative Epsilon Eridani.
Although Vulcan’s main star isn’t specifically identified from an Earth-based perspective in the TV series and movie, Roddenberry and astronomers preferred 40 Eridani A because it’s roughly the same age as our Sun, about 4 billion years old. Epsilon Eridani, on the other hand, is only about a billion years old–too young for evolution here, let alone for volcanic zonal life.
Even if “Vulcan” hasn’t been found (yet), the researchers working with Laliotis don’t want to completely rule out the presence of smaller planets around 40 Eridnani. However, the tools currently in use are not sensitive enough to detect it.
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Search source: ArXiv.org
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