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TrekToday October 31 2008 05:28 AM

Vulcan-like Planet May Really Exist
NASA astronomers say the Epsilon Eridani system is home to at least three jumbo worlds.<p>As reported by <A class="link" HREF="">USA Today</A>, Epsilon Eridani, where the fictional Vulcan, home of <i>Star Trek's</i> Mr. Spock, does indeed have planets in its solar system just as <i>Star Trek's</i> Epsilon Eridani does.<p>The NASA Spitzer space telescope, which measures infrared heat given off by dust and ice rings which circle Epsilon Eridani, suggests the presence of three large planets, which have "dust-free circular lanes" in the asteroid belt and comet belts of Epsilon Eridani.<p>Epsilon Eridani is eight-hundred and fifty million years old, a fifth of the age of Earth's sun, and is approximately sixty-two trillion miles from Earth. It is the closest known solar system.<p>"We certainly haven't seen it yet," said <font color=yellow>Massimo Marengo</font>, astronomer at of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "but if its solar system is anything like ours, then there should be planets like ours."<p>To read more, head to the article located <A class="link" HREF="">here</A>.<center></center>

JuanBolio October 31 2008 07:43 AM

Re: Vulcan-like Planet May Really Exist
1) I was under the impression Vulcan orbited 40 Eridani A, not Epsilon Eridani.

2) Assuming the star system were correct, why would the presence of a few massive planets suggest the existence of a habitable (if desert-covered) Earth-like world?

Rhiana October 31 2008 01:35 PM

Re: Vulcan-like Planet May Really Exist
Juan, you are right in 1)

Vulcan is supposed to be orbiting 40 Eridani A (16ī5 light-years), not Epsilon Eridani (10ī5 L.Ys).

Epsilon Eridani is a younger star, smaller but more massive than the Sun. Itīs system is very alike to the primitive Solar System.

40 Eridani A and Epsilon Eridani are located in the constellation Eridanus, a place that has showed some promise for astrobiologists. Gene Roddenberry knew it was promising because the first SETI attemps in 1960 searched these two stars at Eridanus. So he choose the older of the Sun-like stars, 40 Eridani A because an older star is more likely to have Earth-like planets with life on them.

Both systems are very promising suns with Jupiter-like planets. Itīs possible that both stars have rocky planets with water and perhaps life. But 40 Eridani A is an older star. Since life needs some time to develop, itīs the most promising star.

2) It is generally thought that giant Jupiter-like planets at some distance of the habitable zone could help to make life easier in the hypothetical inner rocky planets because they stabilize the orbits and can shield the smaller planets from asteroids. And could have some promising moons even outside the habitable zone, like our Europa (Jupiterīs moon that has oceans of liquid water under its surface and could have life)

P.S: Excuse my English, Iīm not very fluent.

JuanBolio October 31 2008 11:06 PM

Re: Vulcan-like Planet May Really Exist
Most large gas giants we've found in other star systems have been very close to their suns, where the rocky planets are in our system. There's a theory that the rocky planets here in our solar system were once the biggest of the gas giants, but solar effects caused the lighter gasses to blow outwards, leaving only the rocky cores.

Rhiana November 1 2008 01:11 AM

Re: Vulcan-like Planet May Really Exist
The thing is: small, rocky planets are very hard to detect. Almost all the exoplanets we know are gas giants (Jupiter-like, super-Jupiters, or cuasi brown dwarfs) and the ones that are closer to their stars (hot Jupiters) are more easily detected because the gravitational effects are more evident. It doesnīt mean that close orbits are usual for gas giants. In fact the discovery of the first of those close orbiting giants was a surprise.

About the formation of rocky planets from the core of gas giants, itīs possible but I think the most accepted theory is that they are generally born from the stellar dust and debris around young stars. But there may be different origins to them. We donīt even know if gas giants have a rocky core. Perhaps thereīs no solid centre there, perhaps thereīs some fluid, plasm or some other exotic material.

Temis the Vorta November 1 2008 01:34 AM

Re: Vulcan-like Planet May Really Exist

P.S: Excuse my English, Iīm not very fluent.
You're beating the average around this place so far. :rommie:

But I'm going to have to write NASA a nasty letter for getting Spock's home star system wrong! :mad:

Rhiana November 1 2008 01:49 AM

Re: Vulcan-like Planet May Really Exist
Yes! Please do it! and tell them to fire that Massimo Marengo!. Itīs intolerable for an astronomer not to be a propper trekkie!

But you canīt have high expectations on someone named after a horse...Marengo was Napoleonīs horse

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