Science & Technology

Galileo gets a planet: IAU astronomers reveal first batch of names for alien worlds

After a crowdsourcing marketing campaign that lasted greater than a yr, the Worldwide Astronomical Union has issued its first-ever list of approved names for extrasolar planets – a lineup of 31 worlds, together with some well-known discoveries.

Among the many new names to get to know are Aegir, also referred to as Epsilon Eridani b, one of the closest known exoplanets at a distance of 10 light-years; Dagon, a.okay.a. Fomalhaut b, the first exoplanet to be detected directly in visible wavelengths; and Dimidium, a.okay.a. 51 Pegasi b, the first exoplanet to be discovered around a sunlike star. One other crowd-pleaser is 55 Cancri b, a scorching Jupiter-type planet that’s been named Galileo in honor of the well-known Seventeenth-century astronomer.

The spookiest title on the listing might be Poltergeist, which is extra memorable than the planet’s scientific title, PSR 1257+12 c. It’s one of the first planets detected past the photo voltaic system, circling a pulsar within the constellation Virgo.

The planets named right now have been discovered over the previous 23 years in 19 distant star methods. Some of the celebrities in these methods – for instance, Fomalhaut – have already got correct names. Others, like 51 Pegasi, have been recognized beforehand solely by names derived from the constellations by which they lie. Fourteen stars on the IAU’s listing had been within the latter class, and as a outcome of the naming course of, the celebrities now have new names, too.

The names are the outcome of the IAU’s NameExoWorlds undertaking, which obtained began in July 2014. Astronomical teams helped choose a roster of stars and planets to be named, and the names prompt by these teams had been then put as much as a public vote on the Web. The IAU stated 573,242 votes had been obtained from 182 nations and territories by the Oct. 31 deadline.

Over the weeks that adopted, the IAU labored with the parents who prompt the profitable names to fine-tune the listing. “The newly adopted names take the shape of completely different mythological figures from a wide range of cultures from throughout historical past, in addition to well-known scientists, fictional characters, historical cities and phrases chosen from bygone languages,” the IAU stated:

One of the profitable names, for the planet Tau Bootis b, was thrown out as a result of the IAU determined the title didn’t conform with its naming conventions. The planet shall be added to the listing for a future naming contest, the IAU stated.

The IAU got here up with its contest after a controversy erupted over an unofficial planet-naming project organized by Uwingu, a business enterprise that raises cash for house science and schooling tasks. Uwingu’s undertaking expenses a price to register nominations for planet names, in addition to votes in assist of these names. The IAU, which is historically in cost of approving the names of celestial objects, bristled at that problem. “Such schemes haven’t any bearing on the official naming course of,” it said back in 2013.

Right here’s the complete listing of exoplanet names authorized by the IAU:

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