Warp Speed To Disappointment As Scientists Kill Spock's Home Planet

hero nasa illustration of planet vulcan
Star Trek fans may be disappointed to learn that Spock’s home planet of Vulcan has turned out to be an illusion. While the planet Vulcan may not exist in real life, Spock’s star system, 40 Eridani, is very real.

Star system 40-Eridani is located 16.5 light-years away from Earth, and NASA says its primary star can be viewed with the naked eye. For a while fans of the science fiction hit Star Trek have held out hope that Spock’s home planet of Vulcan may indeed be real as well. However, a new study claims that what was thought to be a planet, is actually an astronomical illusion. Bummer.

A team of scientists, led by astronomer Abigail Burrows of Dartmouth College, recently published a scientific paper titled, “The death of Vulcan: NEID reveals the planet candidate orbiting HD 26965 (alternate name for 40 Eridani A) is stellar activity.”

NASA Vulcan habitable zone
The green area surrounding 40 Eridani A depicts the habitable zone of the star.

The planet Vulcan garnered a lot of attention in 2018 when a planet was detected orbiting 40 Eridani A. A few years later, scientists and astronomers began to question whether the planet existed at all. The latest study seems to clear up all the confusion after precision measurements using a NASA-NSF instrument apparently killed all hope of the planet Vulcan existing.

The group of scientists and astronomers utilized the method of radial velocity to come to their conclusion. Radial velocity tracks subtle shifts in starlight that can be measured in the “wobbles” in the star itself. The wobbles occur as the orbiting planet tugs on the star one way, then the other.

NEID is a radial velocity instrument which relies on the Doppler effect, or shifts in the light spectrum of a star, revealing the star’s wobbling motions. When studying the potential planet Vulcan, there were significant differences between individual wavelength measurements, and the total signal when all were combined.

So, what does all this mean? It means that as of now, the existence of a Vulcan planet is simply illogical.