South Africans have the opportunity to partake in naming an exoplanet that was discovered using the famous SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) telescope – one of the largest telescopes located near the town of Sutherland in the Nothern Cape.
The International Astronomical Union has invited South Africa to participate in their ‘Name an Exoplanet‘ initiative by voting for one of the four shortlisted names chosen for the exoplanet, WASP-62b and its host star WASP-62. Discovered here, in South Africa back in 2012, WASP-62b is located 570 light-years away from Earth. It’s a giant gas ball, similar to Jupiter and is so big that it could hold about 1,000 Earth-size planets in its mass and orbits its host star, WASP-62, every 4.4 days.
This is your chance to name a whole world.” The International Astronomical Union
There are four possible names for the planet and its star. One suggestion includes naming the planet “sceletium” also known as ‘bushman’s ecstasy’ – a plant which induces euphoria – and it’s host star, ‘Buchu’ which is a cultural and medicinal plant of the Khoi and San people. Both plants are native to The Nothern and Western Cape regions and were put forward as a way to recognise the indigenous plants of the Sutherland region – where the exoplanet and host star were discovered.
Take a look at the remaining options to vote for below and be sure to cast your vote on nameexoworld.saao.ac.za. Submissions close 14 November 2019.
- Krotoa (planet) and Naledi (star)
- Sceletium (planet) and Buchu (star)
- Ingoma (planet) and Ubunye (star)
- Gannaga (planet) and Roggeveld (star)