Norway has been given the task of naming a solar system located in the constellation of Ursa Major, located in our galaxy. The star and a planet in this solar system currently have only catalog names, but the Norwegian children and teenagers are now invited to suggest better names for them.
Suggest a name for the exoplanet. (web page in Norwegian)
As part of its 100th anniversary, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organizing a global campaign called IAU100 NameExoWorlds, which gives every country in the world a name for a chosen exoplanet and its host star. Nearly 100 countries have already signed up to organize national campaigns that will give the public the opportunity to vote. The goal of this initiative is to create awareness of our place in the universe and to reflect on how the Earth would potentially be perceived by a civilization on another planet.
In recent years, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets and planetary systems orbiting stars near our solar system. Some are small and rocky like the earth, while others are gas giants like Jupiter. It is now believed that most of the stars in the universe may have planets orbiting them, and some of them may have physical properties similar to Earth’s. The large number of stars in the universe, each with possible orbiting planets, along with the presence of pre-biotic compounds, suggests that extraterrestrial life may be likely.
The IAU is the authority responsible for assigning official names and names to celestial bodies, and now, as they celebrate their first 100 years of promoting international cooperation (IAU100), they want to contribute to the commonality of all people with a significant sign of global identity. Following the first NameExoWorlds campaign, which named 31 exoplanets in 19 planetary systems in 2015, the IAU will now, as part of the IAU100 NameExoWorlds project, offer all countries the chance to name a planetary system, which includes an exoplanet and its host star. Each nation’s designated star is visible from the country that chooses its name, and sufficient light to be observed through small telescopes. This is only the second time in history that a campaign will lead to the naming of stars and exoplanets.
This exciting event invites everyone all over the world to think about our common place in the universe while stimulating creativity and global citizenship. The NameExoworlds initiative reminds us that we are all together under one sky.
Debra Elmegreen, IAU president
After a careful selection of a large amount of well-studied, confirmed exoplanets and their host stars, the IAU100 NameExoWorld’s steering group assigned a star-plane system to each country, with regard to the country and the visibility of the host star from most of the country. In each participating country, a national committee has been set up specifically by the National Outreach Coordinators (IAU NOCs) to carry out the campaign at the national level. The National Committee, which follows the methodology and guidelines set up by the IAU100 Name ExoWorld’s steering committee, is the body responsible for providing the conditions for public participation, disseminating the project in the country and establishing a voting system.
The national campaigns will be implemented from June to November 2019, and after final validation by the IAU100 NameExoWorld’s steering committee, the global results will be announced in December 2019. Winning names will be used freely in parallel with the existing scientific nomenclature, due to credit to the individuals who suggested them.
Here is how the competition takes place
A website has been set up for the competition with a form for submitting name suggestions, both for the plant and the host star. The website contains a little more information about the planet and the star to be named. It also says more about how the competition takes place. The committee has set a name theme for the competition which is “Norwegian nature”. Imagine names from Norwegian mountain peaks, fjords, rivers, lakes, forests, animals, etc. It is also encouraged to propose Sami names. A national committee has been established specifically created by the National Outreach Coordinators (IAU NOCs) to carry out the campaign in Norway. This committee consists of the following organizations: Representatives from the various organizations are distributed as follows:
- Martina D’Angelo (NOC, University of Oslo)
- Sven Wedemeyer (University of Oslo)
- Thais Mothe-Diniz (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
- Tor Aslesen (Norwegian Astronomical Society)
- Ørjan Hoyd H. Vøllestad (National Center for Space-related Education)
We as a committee hope this will awaken the astronomer in all of us and that so many from all over Norway will take part in this incredibly exciting event. It’s not every day you get the chance to name a whole planet!
If you have questions about this competition/event, please contact email@example.com.
This blog post was written by Thais Mothe-Diniz, astrophysicist and research advisor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences