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Cyprus names its first star and exoplanet

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The ancient name of Cyprus, “Alasia”, is given to a star shining 137 light-years away and its most ancient doctor, “Onasilos” is the name given 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.

The names of 112 sets of exoplanets and host stars were announced in Paris. Within the framework of the International Astronomical Union’s 100th anniversary (IAU100), 112 countries organised national campaigns that stimulated the direct participation of over 780,000 worldwide, who proposed and selected names.

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 selected the best names that relate to the history and culture of Cyprus for the final vote. The Naming Committee chose the most popular and representative names to the IAU, which took its final decision.

In a statement to CNA, CSEO President George Danos said: “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. ”

“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.” (source CNA)