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Malaysia gets to name a planet and a star

Malaysian school children will have the opportunity to name a selected exoplanet and its host star to commemorate the 100th-anniversary celebration of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Close to 100 countries have already signed up to organise national campaigns that will provide the public with an opportunity to vote. The aim of this initiative is to create awareness of our place in the Universe and to reflect on how the Earth would potentially be perceived by a civilisation on another planet.

For Malaysia, the opportunity will be given to primary and secondary school students, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said it would be an opportunity for them to expand their knowledge of science.

“We hope that students in Malaysia will not miss the opportunity to propose a Malaysian name for an exoplanet located beyond our solar system, ” she said at an event at the National Planetarium yesterday.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin and former Nasa astronaut Charles Bolden (2nd left) pose for pictures at the National Planetarium in Kuala Lumpur June 13, 2019.

Expected to run from July 1 until August 30, the contest is organised by the planetarium in partnership with a non-governmental organisation, ApaDilangit. After final validation by the IAU100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee, the global results will be announced in December 2019.

The IAU100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee assigned a star–planet system to each country, taking account of the association with the country and the visibility of the host star from most of the country.

In recent years, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets and planetary systems orbiting around nearby stars. Some are small and rocky like the Earth, whilst others are gas giants like Jupiter.

It is now believed that most stars in the Universe could have planets orbiting them and that some of them may have physical characteristics that resemble those of the Earth. 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.

[via Malay Mail]