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IAU names a star and a planet with Indian names: Bibha and Santamasa

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On 17th December 2019, A white yellow dwarf star in Sextans constellation and its Jupiter-like exoplanet with hitherto name HD 86081 has been given Indian names by International Astronomical Union (IAU) through a global contest called “NameExoWorlds”. The star is named Bibha while its planet christened as Santamasa, a Sanskrit word that means “clouded”.

International Astronomical Union (IAU)

  • The star has been named in the honour of an Indian woman scientist Bibha Choudhury who has discovered subatomic particles (pi-meson), the name also means “a bright beam of light” in Bengali.
  • The planet has been given a Sanskrit name ‘Santamasa’ which means ‘clouded’ in order to reflect the cloudy nature of the planet’s atmosphere.

Key Points:
i.In India the naming campaign was coordinated by the Public Outreach and Education Committee of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI).
ii.Ananyo Bhattacharya (22), a student of Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology in Surat, Gujarat has suggested the name Bibha for the star, and Vidyasagar Daud (13), of Singhad Spring Dale Public School in Pune, Maharashtra suggested the name of Santamasa for the planet.

Process of naming the planets:

i.Once a star and its characteristics are identified, they are listed in a catalogue like the Henry Draper Catalogue (HD) and assigned a telephone-number like designation.

ii.The IAU chose the name at the end of a global contest called ‘NameExoWorlds’. This year it was organized as a part of IAU’s centenary celebrations. The organization turned 100 on July 28, 2019.

About International Astronomical Union (IAU):
Founded- 28 July 1919
Headquarters- Paris, France
President- Ewine Fleur van Dishoeck