Names chosen for Belgium’s official exoplanet and star
Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Belgium's official exoplanet and star have been named after Celtic Belgae tribes that used to inhabit the region. Credit: International Astronomical Union
Names have been chosen for Belgium’s official star an exoplanet, which were given to it as gifts from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.
Out of 694 name proposals submitted, the name Eburonia has been chosen for Belgium’s official exoplanet, HD 49674 b, located over 130 million light-years away.
The star HD 49674, a yellow dwarf star, has been given the name Nervia, according to a press release published by the IAU on Tuesday.
A total of 1,300 people took part in the Belgian vote, with the runner-up names including duos like “Saxophone and Tenor,” Diversity and Natura” and “Meuse and Escaut,” which gathered 10, 9 and 7% of the votes respectively.
The theme of the winning name pair are adaptations of Eburones and Nervii, both names of prominent Celtic Belgae tribes that inhabited the north of Gaul, a region roughly corresponding to northern France and modern Belgium.
Both the star and the exoplanet are located in the constellation of Auriga, and were chosen as gifts to Belgium after ensuring they were bright and well-positioned enough so as to be visible with a small telescope used across the country, the IAU wrote.
Eburonia, described as ten times brighter than Jupiter, was discovered in 2002 and is one of the thousands of planets and planetary systems that astronomers have discovered around stars’ orbits in recent years.
“Some are small and some are rocky like the Earth, whilst others are gas giants like Jupiter,” the IAU wrote, adding: “The sheer number of stars in the Universe, each potentially with orbiting planets, along with the ubiquity of pre-biotic compounds, suggests that extraterrestrial life may be likely.”