Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a superhero of sorts to science fans everywhere. He’s one of the best scientists anywhere at explaining the mysteries of science in a way anyone can understand. Now he’s helped Superman find the possible location of his home planet, Krypton in a great mash-up of science fiction meets science fact. Dr. Tyson, longtime star of borg.com favorite TV series NOVA Science Now on Public Television, teamed up with DC Comics to locate a star close enough to Earth that could fall under all the criteria published over the years about the place where Superman’s parents sent him on the voyage that ultimately led to a cornfield outside Smallville, Kansas. Tyson will make his debut comic book appearance in Action Comics Issue #14, released this week.
Red dwarf LHS 2520 fit the bill, and can be located via telescope in the southern sky in the constellation Corvus the crow, 27.1 light years from Earth at the following coordinates:
Right Ascension: 12 hours 10 minutes 5.77 seconds
Declination: -15 degrees 4 minutes 17.9 seconds
Proper Motion: 0.76 arcseconds per year, along 172.94 degrees from due north
“As a native of Metropolis, I was delighted to help Superman, who has done so much for my city over all these years. And it’s clear that if he weren’t a superhero he would have made quite an astrophysicist,” Tyson said in a news release. Artist Rags Morales even included Tyson sporting one of his signature star vests.
Of course, Superman can never go home. Krypton was destroyed shortly after Superman left the planet. But we know from the DC Universe that Krypton was located near a bright red star. Tyson ruled out red giants as their life span is too short to support a civilization, and none were close enough to Earth. In searching through red dwarfs, the most common type of star in the Milky Way galaxy, Tyson narrowed down his selection to LHS 2520.
While Dr. Tyson has been working with DC Comics to find Krypton, Superman fans in Hutchinson, Kansas have started a Facebook campaign to try to get their town renamed Smallville. Both Smallville and Hutchinson are on the Arkansas River and have more than 42,000 people. And Hutchinson has a Clark Street and a Kent Street. And now with the location of Krypton known, fans can visit the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center–home to spacecraft like Virgil “Gus” Grissom’s own Liberty Bell 7 space capsule that sat at the bottom of the ocean for 50 years, the Gemini 10 and the Apollo 13–and view Krypton from nearby the Kent farm home.
Action Comics Issue #14 is on the shelves at comic book stores this week, and Tyson will be hosting a 13-part sequel to Carl Sagan’s classic series Cosmos, coming in Fall 2013 to Fox. We can’t wait!