Astronomers need you to call the fifth-largest dwarf planet
Let’s be honest. When left to the imagination and choice of astronomers, the names of newly discovered planets get really weird and technical. Try these for examples: CoRoT-7b, an exoplanet in the Monoceros constellation; HD 189733 b, an extrasolar planet in the Vulpecula constellation; Gliese 1214 b, an exoplanet in the Ophiuchus constellation. Luckily for all of us, the discoverers of trans-Neptunian object (225088) 2007 OR10 have decided to hand the job of naming their discovery to you.
As reported by BGR, astronomers Meg Schwamb, Mike Brown, and David Rabinowitz discovered 2007 OR10 back in 2007 but just couldn’t come up with an appropriate nickname. It was initially named “Snow White” because of its presumed whiteness but the name was dropped after the astronomers realised 2007 OR10 was actually one of the reddest objects in the Kuiper belt. And so, 2007 OR10 remains the only known object (and the largest) in the Solar System to exist without an official name—yet.
To help name 2007 OR10 head over to this site and select Vote. You’ll then be taken to a page with three proposed naming options: “Vili”, “Gonggong”, and “Holle”. All three names trickle down from ancient mythology. Select any one and hit Submit. The last date for the poll is May 10. According to the site, the option that receives the most votes will be submitted to the Minor Planet Center (MPC) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) as a formal suggestion for 2007 OR10’s new official name.
2007 OR10 is considered to be the fifth-largest dwarf planet, after Pluto, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake. Home to red methane frost that’s irradiated by sunlight and cosmic rays, it’s supposed to be one of the reddest objects known to humans. The surface, which is known to be predominantly rocky, is said to contain water ice. 2007 OR10 has only one known moon, which is known to be less than 100 kilometres in diameter. If you ask us, we’d call it Gonggong, the Chinese water god with red hair and dragon-like tail.