UK ExoWorld Competition: name an exoplanet and its host star

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is giving young people across the UK the opportunity to name their own exoplanet and the star it orbits.

Worldwide, the IAU ExoWorld Naming Competition has invited 93 countries to give a new name to different planetary systems, consisting of an exoplanet – a planet that exists outside our own Solar System – and its host star.

The UK’s designated exoplanet is currently named WASP-13b. It is a large, gaseous planet, found in the Lynx constellation. It is about a third of the mass of Jupiter and takes just four days to orbit its host star, known as WASP-13. This star is over 740 light years from Earth and is similar to the Sun, although it is likely to be larger, hotter and older.

Key dates

  • Friday 6 September 2019: competition opens
  • Friday 18 October 2019: deadline for entries
  • Mid-November: general public invited to vote on shortlisted names
  • Mid-December: winning names will be announced

Professor Robert Walsh, professor of astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and UK national outreach coordinator for the IAU, said:

“This is an unparalleled chance for a school or youth group to leave its mark on the universe. Imagine there being a star and planet out there that will have the name you chose for ever more. We hope that teachers and youth leaders will embrace this competition as a way to engage young people in science by exploring the wonders beyond our own Solar System."

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