Welcome to NameExoWorlds Ireland
This IAU100 project gives every country in the world the opportunity to name an exoplanet and its host star. Ireland has been assigned the honour of giving a popular name to HAT-P-36b, an exoplanet 1.8 times Jupiter’s mass, and its host star which can been found in the Canes Venatici constellation. The planet’s host star is comparable in age and mass to our Sun.
The significance of this incredible competition was not lost on Dr Niall Smith, IAU Member and Head of CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory: “No Irish person has ever had the opportunity to officially name a star and the planet which orbits it. Through the Name ExoWorlds competition, a currently little-know star just below the North Pole Star will be catapulted into the public’s consciousness as Ireland’s first-named star, around which our first-named planet orbits. In the 4.5 billion year history of our planet, no such opportunity has ever come around before. I think that makes the ExoWorlds competition the very definition of unique!”
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.
The IAU is the authority responsible for assigning official designations and names to celestial bodies and now, while celebrating its first 100 years of fostering international collaboration (IAU100), it wishes to contribute to the fraternity of all people with a significant token of global identity. Following the first NameExoWorlds competition, which named 19 exoplanets in 2015, the IAU will now, within the framework of the IAU100 NameExoWorlds project, offer every country the chance to name one planetary system, comprising an exoplanet and its host star. Each nation’s designated star is visible from that country, and sufficiently bright to be observed through small telescopes. This is only the second time in history that a competition will lead to the naming of stars and exoplanets.
“This exciting event invites everyone worldwide to think about their collective place in the Universe, while stimulating creativity and global citizenship,” shared Debra Elmegreen, IAU President Elect. “The NameExoworlds initiative reminds us that we are all together under one sky.”
After carefully selecting a large sample of well-studied, confirmed exoplanets  and their host stars, 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 the country.
Ireland’s National Competition is now under way, and will finish during Space Week 2019 with the closing entry date of Oct 10th 2019. After final validation by the IAU100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee, the global results will be announced in December 2019. The winning names will be used freely in parallel with the existing scientific nomenclature, with due credit to the persons that proposed them.