Last week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration sought the help of the internet to name the seven newly discovered planets of the Trappist-1 solar system. The agency tweeted the request online on its official Twitter account last Feb. 25.
As expected, the Twitterverse obliged with gusto.
NASA Asks Twitter To Name Trappist-1 Planets
Currently, the seven Earth-sized planets, recently spotted by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, are known as Trappist-1b, 1c, 1d, 1e, 1f, 1g, and 1h.
The stream of tweets under the hashtag “#7NamesFor7NewPlanets?” has been a pretty interesting read. While some netizens drew inspiration from their favorite pop culture references — for example, the seven Harry Potter novels, Apple’s iPhone series, popular characters from Game of Thrones, or Friends — most of the suggestions were hilarious.
Tom Riddle's Diary
— Alex (@the_alexb00k) February 24, 2017
People pitched in Snow White’s seven dwarves: Itchy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy, Doc, Sleepy, and Bashful. Others recommended the planets’ names be about current events and call them known as Far from Trump1 to Far from Trump7. But standout comical suggestions were fired by Twitter user @idiotcracy. Some of his funniest entries were Planet McPlanetface, Moonie McMoonface, Rocky McRockface, Icy McIceface, Dusty McDustface, Gasy McGasface, and Wanda.
The International Astronomical Union
Entertaining as they may be, there's little chance that these comical suggestions will actually be approved and used by the International Astronomical Union, or IAU, the deciding body for names of all things astronomical, for the TRAPPIST-1 solar system. Unless it's willing to go through Britain's Boaty McBoatface situation back in 2016.
In 2015, the IAU conducted the NameExoWorlds contest, which invited the public to submit names for 32 extrasolar planets revolving around 15 stars.
Although the agency selected a handful lovely names — including Veritate, Hypatia, and Orbitar to Dagon, Poltergeist, and Dulcinea — some critics did not appreciate the approval of some entries and questioned the IAU's credibility.
Interestingly, some of the unpopular choices were from esteemed universities and observatories in the world. These include Royaldutchastro by the Royal Netherlands Association for Meteorology and Astronomy, Miguelhernández by the Student Society at Complutense University of Madrid, and Thunder Bay by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
Other absurd entries that popped up but thankfully did not make the cut, were Rock 'n' Roll Star and Starry Bunnies.
Discovery Of Trappist-1 Sets New Record
The Trappist-1 revelation sets a new record for the biggest number of habitable-zone planets around a single star beyond our solar system.
"This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life. Answering the question 'are we alone' is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, stated.