Want To Name An Exoplanet? Here's Your Chance
Scientists have so far identified over 1,000 planets outside of the solar system and there are over 3,000 more from unconfirmed observations.
Names that have been assigned to these exoplanets though are not exactly the ones that are easy to say and recall.
Many of these names are characterized by a string of letters and numbers such as NGC 4349 No 127 b and BLG-0563L b but the difficulty associated with recalling the names of this alien worlds could change soon as the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is taking steps to giving better names to these planets.
The IAU is responsible for assigning heavenly bodies their official names and it has opened up the process of naming a planet for public voting.
The NameExoWorlds competition has opened up for public vote the naming of 20 star systems, which according to the IAU includes well-studied exoplanets that were discovered over the past two decades up to Dec. 31, 2008.
"A period of at least five years since the discovery has been considered as a simple and satisfactory criterion to include exoplanets which can be considered as confirmed," the IAU said on the NameExoWorlds website. "All the discoveries were made using various methods, including radial velocities, transits, microlensing and direct imagery."
The competition opened on Tuesday and will run until Oct. 31 this year. Anyone who has a computer or smartphone can vote on a name for each of the 32 different exoplanets that were discovered over the past 25 years.
These alien worlds include the three planets that orbit PSR 1257+12 and the Jupiter-sized exoplanet that circles 52 Pegasi, the first planet outside the solar system orbiting a sun-like star to be discovered.
Participants do not have to go through the hassles of registration but each device can only cast a vote once for each of the 20 systems. Change is neither allowed after the vote. The public can also only cast votes as the names have already been pre-selected for the public.
The names proposed for these extraterrestrial worlds come in assortments with some marked by some sense of humor. Because of its proximity to the star, for instance, 41 Pegasi b was proposed the name "Carousel Hell."
Scientists have so far discovered 1,883 planets orbiting stars beyond the solar system. Otherwise known as exoplanets, some of these are potential candidates for new Earth with potentials for supporting life.Astronomers also review thousands of other celestial bodies in an attempt to determine whether or not these are planets.
Photo: NASA/Goddard/S. Wiessinger | Flickr