The International Astronomical Union has organized a public contest to rename 31 planets and 14 stars. The results of NameExoWorlds have been made public in a press release posted yesterday on the Union’s webpage.
The enormous international interest in astronomy has been reflected by the contest in which more than half a million people coming from 182 countries have voted to rename the ExoWorlds.
Even if people have named stars and planets for thousands of years, the International Astronomical Union is responsible for assigning their official names, used in scientific literature.
NameExoWorlds gives people their first chance to name stars and exoplanets, names which will be used in parallel with their scientific names, with credit given to the organizations or clubs that proposed them.
The voting was closed on October 31 with a total of 573,242 public votes for the naming of 31 exoplanets and 14 of their stars. Those who proposed a winning name are to be awarded a commemorative plaque for their contribution to astronomy. More than that, they will also be given the chance to name a minor planet.
A total of 274 names have been proposed for the NameExoWorlds contest. Propositions came from many organizations from 45 different countries around the world. The organisations which proposed the names included schools, universities, amateur astronomy clubs and planetariums.
The lucky winners also come from different countries and regions – one came from Latin America (Mexico), four from North America (Canada and USA), two came from the Middle East and Africa (Syria and Morocco), six came from Europe (Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and France) and also six from Asia-Pacific (Thailand, Australia and Japan).
A Committee from the International Astronomical Union validated the votes and the winners according to the guidelines published on their website and made modifications where necessary.
The Committee decided to annul the vote of tau Boötis ExoWorld, as they found the name not conforming to the IAU guidelines for naming exoplanets which ban the naming of celestial objects after persons who have been involved in religious, political or military activities. IAU declared that in the future it will organize a new contest to name tau Boötis.
The validated names come from different cultures from different regions and different times but also from fictional characters, ancient cities, famous scientists and words from bygone languages.
All of the renamed planets were discovered before December 31, 2008. Astronomers have studied them for enough time to be confident that they know the exact mass and orbit of each planet.
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