Science

Do You Like Astronomy? You Can Help Choose Names For Exoplanets

Choose Names For Exoplanets
O12 / Pixabay

Thanks to the Kepler and TESS mission efforts, astronomers have learned that there are thousands of planets outside of our solar system. So far, both missions have discovered thousands of planets and planetary systems surrounding our own, leading to the belief that most stars in the universe have planets that orbit them, while there are planets with characteristics similar to ones on Earth. That said, the International Astronomical Union wants your help in choosing names for the exoplanets that have been discovered so far. If you’re creative and love astronomy, you can take part in this amazing project.

The IAU is responsible for naming celestial bodies and while celebrating its first 100 years of international collaboration, it wants your help to choose names for newly discovered exoplanets and stars. Back in 2015, there was a campaign known as NameExoWorlds which saw 31 exoplanets in 19 planetary systems named. Now, as part of the IAU 100 NameExoWorlds project, every country in the world will have a chance to name one planetary system, which will consist of the planet and its host star. Each designated star should be visible from the country that’s naming it.

“This exciting event invites everyone worldwide to think about their collective place in the Universe, while stimulating creativity and global citizenship,” said Debra Elmegreen, IAU President Elect in a statement on EurekaAlert. “The NameExoworlds initiative reminds us that we are all together under one sky.”

Researchers selected a large sample of well-studied, confirmed exoplanets along with their respective host stars. The IAU100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee designated a star-planet system to each nation. The National Outreach Coordinators created each national committee which will be responsible for carrying out the campaign on a national level. The committee will be responsible for sharing the conditions of the public participation and will set up a voting system that will allow its citizens to vote on suitable names.

The national campaigns which will be responsible to choose names for the exoplanets will take place from June to November 2019. After the final validation conducted by the IAU 100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee, the global results will be available by the end of the year. The names that win the campaign will be used with the scientific nomenclature, as well as giving credit to the person that proposed the name of the exoplanets.

In case your country is not part of the national campaign, or you’re a part of a scientific organization or Non-governmental Organization that wants to organize the campaign and voting, you can submit a form until July 30 to express interest toward participating in the project, according to the IAU.