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Exoplanets dubbed 'Vulcan', 'Romulus' and 'Female Pigeon'

Wings slightly fall off cunning mythological plan

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A planet formation expert has decided he's not happy with the International Astronomical Union's insistence that exoplanets will be known solely by their "assigned scientific designation", and has come up with names for the 403 such bodies discovered to date.

Wladimir Lyra chillingly made "extensive use of Wikipedia" to find suitable monikers from Greek and Roman mythology, each selected according to "a scheme of association with the constellation that the host star pertains to".

So, Trekkies will be delighted to learn that HD 50554 b in Gemini becomes "Romulus", while WASP-12 b in Auriga is now dubbed "Vulcan".

However, according to New Scientist, Lyra's plan went a little awry when a Greek-speaking colleague pointed out that renaming HD 43848 b in Columba as "Peristera" might raise a few eyebrows since it means "Female Pigeon".

No matter, because the IAU almost certainly won't adopt the names, as it's expecting plenty of new discoveries over the next few years and considers the idea "impractical".

El Reg emailed the ruling council of Female Pigeon this morning seeking comment on what it will likely consider a serious insult to its homeworld. However, since the nearest star in Columba is 86 light years away, the reply could take a while to arrive. ®

Bootnote

Columba is Latin for "dove", hence the female pigeon angle.

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