Credit: MNHN

The National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) has invited primary and secondary school classes as well as "maisons relais" (childminding service) classes to participate in a competition launched by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the IAU is launching a worldwide campaign offering the opportunity for each country to name an exoplanet (or extrasolar planet) and its star. Nearly 100 countries, including Luxembourg, are participating in this campaign.

The winning names will be recognised by the IAU as the public use names for these objects and will be advertised as such. The group that proposes the winning name will also be given credit. These public names may then be used permanently and without restriction at the international level instead of scientific designations.

The IAU has awarded Luxembourg the HD 45350 system; the HD 45350 star is a G-type star located approximately 160 light-years from our Sun in the Auriga constellation. It is an old yellow supergiant which will soon evolve into a red giant. HD 45350 b is a giant gas exoplanet orbiting this star. Its mass is 1.79 times that of Jupiter and it takes 2.6 years to complete an orbit around its star at a distance of 1.92 astronomical units, or 287 million km, from the star. Its discovery was announced in 2004.

Groups wishing to submit names for this competition must fill out the form available on the official Luxembourg site of the contest: The deadline for submissions is 20 October 2019. The proposed names must meet very specific criteria, as defined by the IAU. These criteria can also be consulted on the site.