Thursday 1 October, 2020

Bazodee? Kilkitay? T&T gets chance to name its own star, exoplanet

Ever wanted to name a star and its exoplanet to represent Trinidad and Tobago? Here's your chance.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is inviting people from Trinidad and Tobago to submit names for host star HD 96063 and exoplanet HD 96063 b as part of its NameExoWorlds competition.

NameExoWorlds is a competition that offers the opportunity for all countries in the world to give a name to one exoplanet (a planet outside of our solar system) and its hosting star. 

The competition is a global project that celebrates 100 years of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Names will be chosen by public voting out in each country, and the winning names will be recognised by the IAU as official names. 

This historic event means Trinidad and Tobago’s culture will be uniquely represented among the heavens.

Committee member Brandon Rajkumar said everyone has a chance to submit a name.

"T&T was lucky enough to get a chance to enter this competition as well, and this means we'll have our own host star and exoplanet that we can name anything we want. We get to propose the names and vote on it and the most popular ones will be chosen."

The group said the submissions will open from September 15 and ten finalists will then be shared online where the public can vote for them. 

Once the best name is chosen it will be submitted to the IAU. 

Rajkumar said it's an exciting chance for T&T to have its own place among the stars. 

"I think it's an amazing thing for us as a community and a country to be able to go out and point at a certain star and say 'hey that's us, that's our star', and I think that's fantastic. I think the competition will be really fun," he said. 

Any member of the public can submit ideas at from September 15th.

The competition does list some rules for naming, for example:

- The proposed names should be of things, people, or places of long-standing cultural, historical, or geographical significance, worthy of being assigned to a celestial object.

- In recognition of the UN 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019), speakers of Indigenous languages are encouraged to propose names drawn from those languages.

- Two names should be proposed – one for the exoplanet and one for the star it orbits.

- The two names should follow a common naming theme. The naming theme describing how the names are related in some logical way should be summarized in a sentence or two, and be broad enough that additional names could be drawn from the literature to name additional objects in that exoplanetary system in the future (e.g. additional planets which might be discovered, additional stellar companions). Example: Rivers of country XYZ. Fictional lands in 19th-century stories from country XYZ, etc.

- Proposed names, after translation, should be between 4 and 16 characters in length in Latin alphabet (including spaces or punctuation).

- Names should be preferably one word, pronounceable (in some language), non-offensive and not identical to, or too similar to, an existing name of an astronomical object.

All proposed names should be accompanied by a citation explaining the name of no more than 100 words (after translation into English), the IAU said.

The selected public names will be recognized by the IAU as the appropriate publically used name for the object(s) and will be published with due credit.

This public name may then be used internationally along with, or instead of, the scientific designation, permanently and without restrictions.

The IAU Trinidad and Tobago Committee is as follows:

Chair: Shirin Haque (University of the West Indies)

Brandon Rajkumar (University of the West Indies)

Ariel Chitan (University of the West Indies)

Sean Farfan (Trinidad and Tobago Astronomical Society)

Kriscia Ramkissoon (Trinidad and Tobago Astronomical Society)

Renée Lopez (Trinidad Radio Astronomy Community)

Isa Mohammed (Caribbean Institute of Astronomy)

Siddiiqa Seunath (UWI StarGazers)

Anushka Mohan (Trinidad and Tobago Astro Club)

Kadijha Watche (National Institute of Higher Education Research Science and Technology)

About T&T’s exoplanet and star

Our Trinbagonian star HD 96063 is a yellow, giant star located in the Leo constellation. While it cannot be seen with the naked eye, it is easily visible in small telescopes and binoculars.

HD 96063's mass is similar to our Sun; however, its radius is almost four times greater and it has an effective temperature of 5308 Kelvin (5034.85 °C). Calculated to be twice as old as our sun at 9 Billion years, HD 96063 has at least one Extrasolar planet in orbit around it. That planet is HD 96063b.

HD 96063b was discovered in 2011 orbiting around its star at almost the same distance the Earth orbits around the sun. With a mass of 1.27 Jupiters, it takes 362.5 Earth days to complete one orbit around its star.


About the IAU

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in 1919. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation.

Its individual members are professional astronomers from all over the world, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy. The IAU has 13699 Individual Members in 107 countries worldwide. Of those countries, 82 are National Members.

The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

In 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is celebrating its 100th anniversary (IAU100) and the astronomical breakthroughs that have shaped science, technology and culture throughout the last century.

The year-long celebrations also aim to highlight the importance of astronomy as a tool for education, development and diplomacy.

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