NASA wonders if anybody out there can help them to name the recently announced seven earth sized planets that have been observed in orbit abound Trappist-1 …
— NASA (@NASA) February 24, 2017
Now to be clear, this is not a serious suggestion but instead is just a bit of fun (and publicity). Some random twitter user will not be plucked from obscurity and chosen to actually name anything. It is the IAU (International Astronomical Union) that makes such decisions.
It is worth noting that the IAN do recognise that people should give input into the exoplanet naming process …
The IAU fully supports the involvement of the general public in the naming of astronomical objects, whether directly or through an independent organised vote, in the naming of planetary satellites, newly discovered exoplanets, and their host stars. This follows a well-established tradition for naming Solar System objects.
The IAU does not consider itself as having a monopoly on the naming of celestial objects — anyone can in theory adopt names the way they choose. However, given the publicity and emotional investment associated with these discoveries, worldwide recognition is important and the IAU offers its unique experience for the benefit of a successful public naming process (which must remain distinct, as in the past, from the scientific designation issues)
The process for naming exoplanets is organised by the IAU Executive Committee Working Group Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites.
So they do in reality run exoplanet naming competitions.
The IAU also have naming rules
proposed names should be:
- 16 characters or less in length;
- Preferably one word;
- Pronounceable (in some language);
- Not too similar to an existing name of an astronomical object. Names already assigned to astronomical objects can be checked using the links http://cds.u-strasbg.fr/cgi-bin/sesame (for galactic and extragalactic names), and the MPC database http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/db_search (for names).
In addition it is not allowed to propose:
- Names of pet animals;
- Names of a purely or principally commercial nature;
- Names of individuals, places or events principally known for political, military or religious activities;
- Names of living individuals.
- Same name for a host star and a planet around it
The process must be respectful of intellectual property:
- It must be demonstrated that previously existing names, when proposed, are free for public use (i.e., for instance, not subject to copyright royalties, as could be the case for names created in fiction works, like books, plays, movies, etc.);
In other words, no planet “Fuck Off”, and no planet “Trump”, so even if both of those should be all part of a proposed name for one tiny little planet by some very popular vote, it is not going to happen.
Twitter users do have a few ideas
So here comes the fun part.
Ask twitter and you know that the rule book is going out the window. First is the inevitable …
… and of course the immediate political concerns will naturally bubble up …
Far from Trump1
Far from Trump2
Far from Trump3
Far from Trump4
Far from Trump5
Far from Trump6
Far from Trump7
— Mike Pons (@mikepons) February 24, 2017
— The Other Heather (@pinklady_ktown) February 24, 2017
So what can we actually name 7 planets in orbit around a dwarf star?
Oh come now, you just knew that this would have to come up …
— PositivelyAviva (@JacobsAviva) February 24, 2017
… or perhaps …
The sun is a red dwarf
— Uddin (@NancyUddin) March 2, 2017
I suspect this guy was responding on his iPhone …
Yes, this is indeed the Kelly Carlin, daughter of comedian George Carlin …
Too obvious but… #7NamesFor7NewPlanets
— Kelly Carlin (@kelly_carlin) February 25, 2017
Clearly a few still feel sore about Pluto being demoted …
It's the least we can do.
— Darth Azius (@darthazius) February 24, 2017
Left a bit, right a bit …
The other one
No, that one
More to the left
To my left
Oh, forget it#7NamesFor7NewPlanets
— Momentum (@MomentumComic) February 24, 2017
#7NamesFor7NewPlanets – mine mine mine mine mine yours mine
— Kristen Darling (@KDarling_Author) February 24, 2017
I wonder if he tweeted this on a Mac …
XP Professional x64
— Russ 🌏 (@Russell_CNX) March 3, 2017
And finally for a voyage where no-one has gone before you need the ultimate SiFi branding …
— KJ (@ScarletRedRuby) March 3, 2017