Two Thai names are among 20 pairs selected by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for exoplanets and their host stars, according to the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (Narit).
“Kaewkosin-Phailinsiam” was selected for the red dwarf star GJ 3470 and its bluish-green planet GJ 3470b, Narit researcher Supachai Awiphan said after results of the NameExoWorlds 2022 contest sponsored by the IAU were released this week.
The celestial objects are 95.9 light years from the solar system and located in the constellation of Cancer. The names, proposed by Hassadin Pattanakorn and Chalermwut Samana, were voted on by Thais in an online poll before being submitted.
Kaewkosin refers to the crystals of the Hindu deity Indra in the Thai language, alluding to the ancient belief that the stars were gemstones.
Phailinsiam is the Thai term for the blue “Siamese Sapphire”, alluding to the detection of a phenomenon known as “Rayleigh scattering” in the planet’s atmosphere, suggestive of blue skies.
Mr Supachai said the selection of “Kaewkosin-Phailinsiam” has delighted Thai astronomy circles because Thai astronomers were the first to observe the distant bodies through telescopes at the National Observatory on Doi Inthanon mountain in Chiang Mai province.
He said the study in Thailand of planets outside the solar system has made significant progress since then. Thai astronomers have demonstrated their potential in international astronomy research through a number of discoveries over the past decade, he added.
Mr Supachai said two pairs of Thai names were selected earlier for exoplanets and host stars by the IAU as part of its NameExoWorlds project: Chalawan-Tapaokaew-Tapathong for the 47 UMa planetary system and Chaophraya-Maeping for WASP-50.
The NameExoWorlds 2022 contest was held to mark the 10th anniversary of the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO).
The contest attracted 603 entries from 91 countries in which some 8,800 individuals worked in teams, putting forward outreach initiatives that stimulated the direct participation of almost 12 million people worldwide.
Many of the 20 pairs of names selected for exoplanets and their host stars pay homage to fauna and flora with cultural significance and celebrated folktales, mythologies and lore from around the world, including words in Cherokee, Taino, Zoque, Chinese and Korean.