Astronomers find closest super-Earth which ‘could support alien civilisation’

Rob Waugh
Contributor
The planet could be a perfect breeding ground for an alien civilisation (Getty)

Astronomers have spotted a super-Earth (like our planet, but bigger) orbiting a star close enough to be seen with the naked eye – and say it could support an alien civilisation.

Star Trek fans are over the moon, as the planet orbits 40 Eridani A – the host star of Spock’s home planet, Vulcan.

Because the star is so like our sun, it’s described as an ‘ideal’ breeding ground for aliens.

Jian Ge of the University of Florida said, ‘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

‘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.’

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Matthew Muterspaugh of Tennessee State University (TSU) said, ‘The orange-tinted HD 26965 is only slightly cooler and slightly less massive than our Sun, is approximately the same age as our Sun, and has a 10.1-year magnetic cycle nearly identical to the Sun’s 11.6-year sunspot cycle.

‘Therefore, HD 26965 may be an ideal host star for an advanced civilization.’

Gregory Henry of TSU said, ‘Star Trek fans may know the star HD 26965 by its alternative moniker, 40 Eridani A. “Vulcan was connected to 40 Eridani A in the publications ‘Star Trek 2’ by James Blish (Bantam, 1968) and ‘Star Trek Maps’ by Jeff Maynard (Bantam, 1980),” Vulcan is the home planet of Science Officer Mr. Spock in the original ‘Star Trek’ Sci-Fi series.

‘Spock served on the starship Enterprise, whose mission was to seek out strange new worlds, a mission shared by the Dharma Planet Survey.’

In a letter published in the periodical “Sky and Telescope” in July 1991, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, confirmed the identification of 40 Eridani A as Vulcan’s host star.