Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discovers Superman’s home star

Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson helped DC Comics, home of the Superman comics, find a plausible star to be the host …
In the latest issue of Action Comics #14, titled "Star Light, Star Bright", Superman has been searching for Rao, the star that his home planet of Krypton orbits, and famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has helped him find it!

"This is a major milestone in the Superman mythos that gives our Super Hero a place in the universe," said Dan DiDio, co-publisher of DC Entertainment. "Having Neil deGrasse Tyson in the book was one thing, but by applying real world science to this story he has forever changed Superman's place in history. Now fans will be able to look up at the night's sky and say — 'that's where Superman was born'."

[ Related: Astronomers detect light from Universe's earliest stars ]

In pinpointing Superman's fictional home, Dr. Tyson, who is director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, looked to a red dwarf star 27 light years away in the southern constellation Corvus, with the unassuming name LHS 2520. It has always been known that Superman — or Kal-El as he was named by his parents — came from a planet orbiting a red star, because it was the rays of our yellow Sun that give him his strength, speed, invulnerability and power of flight (among others). Whether this was a tiny red dwarf or a massive red giant has never been fully established, though (although I understand there are some sources, including a deleted scene in Superman Returns, that say it is a red supergiant).

To find the star, you can use 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

[ Related: Massive impact may have shaped the face of the Moon ]

To find out exactly why Dr. Tyson chose LHS 2520 to be Rao will require you to read the comic, but he had this to say about the experience:

"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."

For all the latest in science and weather, follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter.