For the first time, scientists at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) are letting the world decide what to call newly discovered "exoplanets" outside our solar system.
Instead of the traditional naming system, which uses a sensible but boring alphanumeric identification system, people can vote for names like Poltergeist and Misopan (a soybean paste bun). Amateur astronomy clubs and non-profits from around the world sent in name suggestions, and from those the IAU picked a shortlist of possible names for each planet.
This planet (below) is in the exoworld "tau Boötis," in a constellation called the Herdsmen. The star it orbits around is visible to the human eye from Earth, and the planet itself is 1875-times larger than Earth in terms of mass.
The planet's temporary name is tau Boötis b, but that could change to something quite different: its potential names include Alfrangus, after a Persian astronomer; Kitora, a tomb in a mythological Japanese city; and Bhaghavatidevi, an Indian feminist leader.
Another planet's potential names include Neil, Carousel Hell b, Epicurus, and Prantriguse, a word invented by an eight-year-old French kid. According to the voting website the kid said, "It means nothing but because exoplanets are new worlds, we have to invent new words!"
There are 32 exoplanets and 15 stars from 20 different planetary systems or “exoworlds” waiting to be named by popular choice in online polls. Voting closes at the end of October.
Related: Say hello to baby Jupiter