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IAU reveals its first list of exoplanet names

Image: Hot Jupiter planet
An artist’s conception shows a “hot Jupiter” around an alien star. One of the first hot Jupiters to be detected, 55 Cancri b, has been given the name Galileo. (Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech)

After a crowdsourcing campaign that lasted more than a year, the International Astronomical Union has issued its first-ever list of approved names for extrasolar planets – a lineup of 31 worlds, including some famous discoveries.

Among the new names to get to know are Aegir, also known as Epsilon Eridani b, one of the closest known exoplanets at a distance of 10 light-years; Dagon, a.k.a. Fomalhaut b, the first exoplanet to be detected directly in visible wavelengths; and Dimidium, a.k.a. 51 Pegasi b, the first exoplanet to be discovered around a sunlike star. Another crowd-pleaser is 55 Cancri b, a hot Jupiter-type planet that’s been named Galileo in honor of the famous 17th-century astronomer.

The spookiest name on the list may well be Poltergeist, which is more memorable than the planet’s scientific name, PSR 1257+12 c. It’s one of the first planets detected beyond the solar system, circling a pulsar in the constellation Virgo.

Get the full list on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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