Here’s Thailand’s Chance to Name a Star and Exoplanet

A visualization of WASP-50 b. Image: NASA
A visualization of WASP-50 b. Image: NASA

ERIDANUS — It’s time for Thailand to take its place among the stars – by name. And you can dictate what they will be, whether it’s after Thailand’s rivers, pretty words about sparkling, or descriptive, glorious words about the skies.

All Thai citizens can vote on a Thai name for the WASP-50 star and its orbiting exoplanet WASP-50 b from now until October 31. The naming effort is part of the “NameExoWorlds” project by the International Astronomical Union, the only internationally-recognized body that can officially assign names to celestial bodies.

All countries will be able to name an exoplanet and the star it orbits. The planetary system assigned to Thailand is the WASP-50 star, a yellow-white star in the Eridanus constellation, and the WASP-50 b planet, a gas giant almost one and a half times the mass of Jupiter.

Thailand’s Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) has narrowed down the naming options from more than 1,500 submissions sent in by Thais since June to three pairs of names for the star and its orbiting exoplanet. The first is “Chao Phraya” and “Mae Ping,” after the major rivers in Thailand.

“The Chao Phraya is the major river of Thailand created from many smaller tributaries such as Ping, Wang, Yom, and Nan Rivers,” the NARIT Facebook page wrote. “If we find more exoplanets in the future, we can name it after other rivers as well.”

The second option is a delicate description of astronomical bodies: “Prakaikaeo” and “Prakaidao,” which roughly mean “shining like glass” and “shining like a star.”

“Prakaikaeo is the shining light that spreads all around, like a star, and Prakai dao is like the shimmering reflection from the star that hits the exoplanet and lets us see them as they orbit,” NARIT wrote.

Finally, the third option is “Fahluang” and “Fahrin.”

“‘Fah’ both mean sky, and ‘luang’ means something that is great. So ‘Fahluang means something that is great and glorious in the sky, so it is an appropriate name for a star,” NARIT wrote. “‘Fahrin’ means precipitation flowing from the skies.”

Facebook user Jetsiri Sotechin said she voted for Fahluang-Fahrin because “it makes me think of King Rama IX, who is my great universe, and Fahrin makes me think of his rainmaking project that he gave to us citizens.”

To vote, fill out this form before October 31. A valid Thai passport ID is required, and only one vote per citizen will be counted. Ten lucky voters will also win souvenirs from the astronomical society.

Travelling there from Earth at light speed would take 606 years to get there. Planning to take a car? Be prepared to strap in for 7 billion years.

Read: Thailand Takes its Place in Space with ‘Chalawan’

This naming project is held in honor of the organization’s 100th year. A similar campaign was held back in 2015, where Thailand named a star Chalawan and two orbiting planets Taphao Thong and Taphao Kaew, after Thai folklore “Krai Thong” of a crocodile king who captured a Phichit woman to make her his wife, and the other after her sister.

A visualization of WASP-50 star and WASP-50 b orbiting it. Image: NASA
A visualization of WASP-50 star and WASP-50 b orbiting it. Image: NASA
A visualization of WASP-50 star. Image: NASA
A visualization of WASP-50 star. Image: NASA
A visualization of WASP-50 b compared to Earth. Image: NASA
A visualization of WASP-50 b compared to Earth. Image: NASA

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Thailand Takes its Place in Space with ‘Chalawan’