Try your luck to officially name an exoplanet and its host star
Within the framework of its 100th anniversary commemorations, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organising the IAU100 NameExoWorlds global competition that allows any country in the world to give a popular name to a selected exoplanet and its host star. The Belgian Steering Committee IAU100 organises the selection for Belgium: individuals, associations and schools are invited to submit proposals for names before 15 August via an online form available on the website www.NameExoWorlds.be.
In recent years, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets and planetary systems orbiting around nearby stars. Some are small and rocky like the Earth, whilst others are gas giants like Jupiter. It is now believed that most stars in the Universe could have planets orbiting them and that some of them may have physical characteristics that resemble those of the Earth. The sheer number of stars in the Universe, each potentially with orbiting planets, along with the ubiquity of pre-biotic compounds, suggests that extraterrestrial life may be likely.
The IAU is the authority responsible for assigning official designations and names to celestial bodies. Within the framework of its 100th anniversary, the IAU launches the campaign IAU100 NameExoWorlds, allowing everyone to propose two names linked by a common theme which, if selected, will be attributed to an already known exoplanet and its host star. The purpose of this initiative is to raise awareness of our place in the Universe and to reflect on how the Earth could be perceived by a civilization from another planet.
Belgium, a member of the IAU, is represented by the Belgian Steering Committee IAU100, which organises this competition open to all: it is a unique opportunity to officially name a star!
Which exoplanet? Which star?
The IAU assigns to each participating nation one exoplanet and its host star. This selection was made by ensuring that the star is bright enough and well positioned in the sky so that it can be observed with a small telescope from across the country.
The star-exoplanet system selected for Belgium is the one to which the exoplanet HD 49674 b belongs. It is located more than 130 light years away from our solar system, in the Auriga constellation. This exoplanet, ten times lighter than Jupiter, was discovered in 2002. It orbits around a star similar to our Sun at a distance equivalent to 6% of the Earth-Sun distance.
The exoplanet assigned to Belgium:
Host star type
HD 49674 b
How to submit?
Anyone (individuals, schools, associations) can propose a name to the exoplanet HD 49674 b and a name to its star (both proposals being linked by a theme) by completing the online form on the www.NameExoWorlds.be page before August 15, 2019.
Note that the names proposed must correspond to specific criteria. These criteria are detailed on the website www.NameExoWorlds.be and on the page www.planetarium.be
How will the selection process work?
The national campaign will run from June to November 2019. After the closing of the name submissions on August 15, a selection committee will make a first selection and choose a maximum of 10 name pairs from the proposals. These names will then be submitted to an online vote from September to the end of October 2019. The winning proposal will then be submitted for review to the IAU Organising Committee, which will announce the final results in December 2019. The new names assigned to exoplanets will be used in conjunction with the existing scientific nomenclature, with reference to the persons who proposed them.
More information about the IAU
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world’s largest professional body for astronomers.
Website of the Belgian national competition: www.NameExoWorlds.be
More information: www.planetarium.be
IAU100 International NameExoWorlds Campaign: http://nameexoworlds.iau.org/
IAU100 website: https://www.iau-100.org/
Coordinator of the Belgian Steering Committee IAU100
Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium
Tel: 02 474 70 53
Communication and public events Planetarium
Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium
Tel: 02 474 70 57
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