The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the authority responsible for assigning official designations and names to celestial bodies is celebrating its 100 years.This year too, IAU had offered every country the opportunity to name one planetary system, comprising an exoplanet and its host star, to be named by the people of that country. India was assigned a star-planet system with the star HD 86081 for naming, said the official release.
Samir Dhurde, Incharge Officer – Public Outreach at IUCAA said, “A contest called “Name ExoWorlds India” was launched on July 10, by the national committee working on this in association with the Astronomical Society of India (ASI) asking name suggestions for the exoplanet HD 86081 b and its parent star from school and college level Indian youngsters. We obtained 1717 proposals out of which 10 were selected for voting and amongst them, two were selected as final winners.”
Explaining the significance of the selected names, the official note said, “Bibha is the Bengali pronunciation of the Sanskrit word Vibha, which means “a bright beam of light”. It also honours Indian physicist Dr Bibha Chowdhuri. Santamasa in Sanskrit means “clouded”, which is analogous to the nature of the exoplanet’s atmosphere. The naming theme for exoplanet and host star is an analogy to how the physical & lighting conditions of the HD 86081 system might be.”