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Royal Observatory Belgium

Name Your Own Exoplanet! – The votes are open!

8 Oct 2019, 13:28 UTC
Name Your Own Exoplanet! – The votes are open!

Choose from the four proposals selected 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. Individuals, associations and schools are invited to vote before November 13 at 11:59 p.m. among
a list of four proposals via an online form available on the website www.NameExoWorlds.be.
The four proposals put to the vote:

Name of the star
Name of the exoplanet

Diversity
Natura
(Theme: diversity of Belgium)

Meuse-Maas
De Schelde-Escaut
(Theme: Belgian rivers)

Nervia
Eburonia
(Theme: Belgian Celtic tribes)

Saxophone
Tenor
(Theme: music instrument invented by a Belgian)

 
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.
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:

ID
Right ascension
Declination
Constellation
Host star type

HD 49674 b
06h51m30.52s
+40°52’03.9”
Auriga
Yellow Dwarf

 
How to vote?
Everyone (individuals, schools, associations) can vote for the name of the exoplanet HD 49674 b and the name of its star (both proposals being related by theme) from among the four proposals selected by completing the online form on the www.NameExoWorlds.be page before 13 November at midnight.
How did the selection process work? What are the next steps?
Among the many proposals made by 15 August (nearly 700 pairs of names received), a list of four names was selected by the Belgian Committee among those that met the naming criteria (among others: not a name already assigned to an asteroid, no names of people living or deceased after 1919, need to have a name free of rights: therefore, no comic book heroes).
These four proposals are submitted to the vote until 13 November. 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 mention of 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.
Contacts

Rodrigo Alvarez
Coordinator of the Belgian Steering Committee IAU100
Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium
e-mail: rodrigo.alvarez@planetarium.be
Tel: 02 474 70 53
Anne-Lize Kochuyt
Communication and public events Planetarium
Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium
e-mail: anne-lize.kochuyt@planetarium.be
Tel: 02 474 70 57

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