When it comes to naming planets, scientists have the opportunity to let their creativity soar. While many planets in our solar system have been named after ancient gods and goddesses, there are also some truly cool and unique planet names out there. In this article, we will explore some of the most interesting planet names in English, their origins, and the stories behind them.
The Origins of Planet Names
Before we dive into the cool planet names, it’s important to understand how planets are named in the first place. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is responsible for officially naming celestial bodies, including planets. The IAU has established a set of guidelines for naming planets, which often involve themes related to mythology, history, and exploration.
1. Mythological Names
One of the most common sources of planet names is mythology. Many planets in our solar system are named after ancient gods and goddesses from various mythologies around the world. For example, Mars is named after the Roman god of war, while Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.
2. Historical Figures
Another popular source of planet names is historical figures who have made significant contributions to science, exploration, or astronomy. For instance, Mercury is named after the Roman god of commerce and communication, as well as the fastest planet in our solar system. Similarly, Uranus is named after the Greek god of the sky.
3. Astronomers and Scientists
Some planets are named after famous astronomers and scientists who have made groundbreaking discoveries in the field of astronomy. For example, Jupiter is named after the Roman king of gods and the largest planet in our solar system. It is also the namesake of the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei, who made significant observations of the planet and its moons.
Cool Planet Names
Now that we understand the origins of planet names, let’s explore some of the coolest and most unique planet names in English:
1. Kepler-452b: Earth’s Cousin
Kepler-452b is an exoplanet that orbits a star similar to our Sun. It is often referred to as Earth’s cousin due to its similarities in size and orbit. The name Kepler-452b comes from the Kepler space telescope, which discovered the planet, and the number assigned to it based on its discovery order.
2. TrES-2b: The Dark Planet
TrES-2b is a gas giant exoplanet that reflects less than 1% of the light it receives, making it one of the darkest known planets. Its name, TrES-2b, stands for “Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite 2b,” as it was discovered by the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey.
3. HD 189733b: The Blue Planet
HD 189733b is an exoplanet located approximately 63 light-years away from Earth. It is known for its deep blue color, which is caused by the scattering of light by tiny particles in its atmosphere. The name HD 189733b comes from the star system it belongs to, HD 189733, and the letter “b” indicating that it is the first planet discovered in that system.
4. WASP-12b: The Hot Jupiter
WASP-12b is a gas giant exoplanet that orbits very close to its star, resulting in extreme temperatures. It is often referred to as the “Hot Jupiter” due to its proximity to its star and its large size. The name WASP-12b comes from the Wide Angle Search for Planets project, which discovered the planet, and the number assigned to it based on its discovery order.
5. Gliese 581g: The Goldilocks Planet
Gliese 581g is an exoplanet located in the habitable zone of its star, where conditions may be just right for liquid water and potentially life as we know it. It is often referred to as the “Goldilocks Planet” due to its potential for supporting life. The name Gliese 581g comes from the star system it belongs to, Gliese 581, and the letter “g” indicating that it is the sixth planet discovered in that system.
1. Are there any planets named after real people?
Yes, there are planets named after real people. For example, the dwarf planet Eris is named after the Greek goddess of strife and discord, while the exoplanet 51 Pegasi b is named after its parent star, 51 Pegasi, and the letter “b” indicating that it is the first planet discovered in that star system.
2. Are there any planets named after fictional characters?
As of now, there are no officially named planets in our solar system or beyond that are named after fictional characters. However, there have been proposals to name exoplanets after fictional planets from popular culture, such as Tatooine from Star Wars or Pandora from Avatar.
3. How are exoplanets named?
Exoplanets are typically named based on the star system they belong to, followed by a letter indicating their discovery order. For example, the first planet discovered in the star system Gliese 581 is named Gliese 581b, the second is Gliese 581c, and so on. In some cases, exoplanets may also be given a more memorable name based on their characteristics or significance.
4. Can anyone suggest a name for a planet?
While anyone can suggest a name for a planet, the final decision lies with the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The IAU has specific guidelines and criteria for naming celestial bodies, and suggestions are typically reviewed by a committee before a name is officially approved.
5. Are there any plans to name future planets after famous scientists?
There are no specific plans to name future planets after famous scientists, but it is certainly a possibility. As our understanding of the universe expands and new discoveries are made, there may be opportunities to honor the contributions of scientists through planet names.
The world of planet names is a fascinating one, filled with mythology, history, and scientific discoveries. From Kepler-452b, Earth’s cousin, to the dark planet TrES-2b, each planet has its own unique story