Greetings Astro-enthusiasts! The International Astronomical Union (IAU) invites you to help name an exoplanet and its star.
In recent years, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets and planetary systems orbiting around nearby stars. Some are small and rocky, like the Earth, while others are gas giants like Jupiter. It is now understood that most stars in our galaxy are likely to have planets orbiting them and that some of them may have physical characteristics that resemble those of the Earth.
Although the IAU is the authority responsible for assigning official designations and names to celestial bodies, in recognition of its 100th year, the IAU now offers every country the chance to name one planetary system - an exoplanet and its host star. Each nation's designated star is visible from that country, and sufficiently bright to be observed through small telescopes. The star for the United States is currently identified as HD 17156, a sun-like star in the constellation Cassiopeia. While scientists cannot directly image the planet orbiting HD 17156, current data indicates it is a Jupiter-sized gas giant with a highly eccentric orbit.
“This exciting event invites everyone worldwide to think about their collective place in the Universe, while stimulating creativity and global citizenship,” shared Debra Elmegreen, IAU President Elect. “The NameExoworlds initiative reminds us that we are all together under one sky.”
The US national campaign will run from September 2019 to November 2019 and, after final validation by the IAU100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee, the global results will be announced in December 2019. The winning names will be used freely in parallel with the existing scientific nomenclature, with due credit to the persons that proposed them.
A national committee for the US naming event has been specially created by the National Outreach Coordinators to carry out the campaign at the national level. The national committee strictly follows the methodology and guidelines set up by the IAU100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee and is responsible for providing the conditions for public participation, disseminating the project in the country and establishing a voting system.
Here’s how the voting will work:
The US Exoplanet Naming Campaign collected names from September 15 – October 15, 2019. The US National Committee received hundreds of proposals. A group of 40 amateur and professional astronomers, teachers and students identified 10 proposals to be voted on by the US public. Public voting on the list of 10 semi-finalists will be open from November 1–14, 2019. The top three selected by US voters will be submitted by November 15 to the IAU100 NameExoworlds Steering Committee for the final choice. The final result will be announced by the IAU the week of December 16 – 21, 2019.
The US Naming Committee members are:
• Carmen Pantoja, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus
• Derrick Pitts, The Franklin Institute
• Stephen Pompea, National Optical Astronomy Observatory
• Timothy Spuck, AUI
• Vivian White, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
• Yasmin Catricheo, AUI
The IAU is the international astronomical organization 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 recognized 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.
Use the hashtag #ourexoplanet on social media to share your ideas!