News Local Cyprus' first star and exoplanet named Alasia and Onasilos

Cyprus’ first star and exoplanet named Alasia and Onasilos

The ancient name of the island of Cyprus, “Alasia” has been given to a star shining 137 light years away while the name of Cyprus’ most ancient doctor, “Onasilos”, will go to the giant gas exoplanet orbiting the star in the constellation of Ophiuchus.

After a campaign that lasted almost four months, Cyprus has chosen the name it will give to its star and exoplanet, a privilege deriving from the membership of the Cyprus Space Exploration Organization (CSEO) in the International Astronomical Union.

Today, December 17, 2019, the names of 112 sets of exoplanets and host stars named in the IAU100 NameExoWorlds campaigns were announced at a press conference in Paris.

Within the framework of the International Astronomical Union’s 100th anniversary commemorations (IAU100) in 2019, 112 countries organised national campaigns that stimulated the direct participation of over 780 000 people worldwide, who proposed and selected names for each exoplanet and its host star.

The solar system assigned to Cyprus by the IAU is 137 light years away. Discovered in 2002, the star is a yellow dwarf with identification HD168746. Its exoplanet, HD168746b is a gas giant like Jupiter, our solar system’s biggest planet. It rotates around its star every 6.4 earth days.

The IAU serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world’s largest professional body for astronomers.

After receiving hundreds of nominations the CSEO Naming Committee had selected last month the best names that relate to the history and culture of Cyprus for the final vote. Thousands of Cypriots voted for the names of their choice for one week. The Naming Committee chose the most voted and representative names to the IAU, which took its final decision.

In a statement to CNA, CSEO President George Danos said that “Cyprus has been given a unique opportunity to choose names that represent the culture and history of our country to officially name a star and an exoplanet, to choose names that represent the tradition and history of our country. ”

He noted that in this process “we have succeeded in making the general public look into the history of our country and discover parts of it, and have contact with astronomy to promote and empower this scientific field in our country.”

The members of the Cyprus Naming Committee were George Danos CSEO President, Athena Arsalidou CNA space and astronomy editor, Andreas Efstathiou Professor of Astrophysics European University of Cyprus and member of the CSEO National Research Committee, Chrystanthos Fakas Astrophysicist and member of the Nicosia City Council,  Christina Shailas President of the  Cyprus Young Professionals Association, Cyprus USA Chamber of Commerce, Constantinos Charalambous Cypriot NASA researcher, and Emmi Georgiadou CSEO officer.

(Cyprus News Agency)

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