UK public vote Isle of Man school winners of competition to name planet

17 December 2019

Winners announced of world-wide competition organised by the International Astronomical Union

Following a public vote, the UK has named an exoplanet ‘Cruinlagh’ and its host star ‘Gloas’, two suggestions put forward by a primary school on the Isle of Man.

As part of a global competition launched by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to celebrate its 100th anniversary, schools and youth organisations across the country were invited to suggest new names for an exoplanet based in the Lynx constellation and its host star. The UK arm of the competition has been led by Professor Robert Walsh, professor of astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

"The quality of suggestions was truly exceptional, and it was great to see young minds across the country engaging with science in a new and novel way."

Class 4/5G of Cronk y Berry Primary School in the Isle of Man proposed the names Cruinlagh (pronounced crunlack) and Gloas (pronounced glowas) which are Manx Gaelic words meaning ‘orbit’ and ‘shine’ respectively, describing the physical processes of the exoplanet and star.

The final UK names were selected from over 1,000 individual suggestions, submitted by more than 10,000 young people across the country. After it was narrowed down to the top ten, the public had the final say to crown the winner.

The UK’s designated exoplanet, previously referred to as WASP-13b, is a large, gaseous planet about a third of the size of Jupiter. Its host star, known as WASP-13, is over 740 light years from Earth and larger, hotter and older than our own Sun.

Worldwide, more than 110 countries participated in the IAU competition to give new names to different planetary systems. Over 360,000 names were submitted in total, and over 400,000 votes were cast around the world to decide on the final names.

Professor Robert Walsh, Professor of astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and UK national outreach coordinator for the IAU, was responsible for overseeing the UK arm of the IAU competition. Commenting on the results, he said: “The quality of suggestions was truly exceptional, and it was great to see young minds across the country engaging with science in a new and novel way. The chosen names have had some real thought put into them and I’m thrilled that the talented class of Cronk y Berry Primary School have truly made their mark on the universe – something that they can cherish for years to come.”

Tina Graham, teacher of class 4/5G at Cronk y Berry Primary School, said: “This competition was an amazing opportunity to get our pupils thinking about what exists beyond our own Solar System. To find out that our names are the ones that the public has chosen for the planet and star is truly mind blowing. It’s testament to the creativity and talent of the entire class and we’re incredibly proud that a piece of our culture, language and history has now made its way across the stars.”

Debra Elmegreen, IAU president-elect, said: “It is gratifying that so many people across the globe have helped create a name for a planetary system that is meaningful to their culture and heritage. This effort helps unite us all in our exploration of the universe.”

The UK competition was a partnership between the IAU, UCLan, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Royal Astronomical Society, UK European Space Education Research Office, Girlguiding, the University of Warwick, the National Schools Observatory, the Association of Science and Discovery Centres, the British Association of Planetaria and UKFAST.

Notes to editors

Further details on UK designated exoplanet and host star

The UK specific exoplanet and host star is WASP-13b and WASP-13 respectfully. Their current scientific designation arises from the fact they were investigated by the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) international consortium.

WASP-13, now named “Gloas” (pronounced glowas)

WASP-13 is a star in the Lynx constellation. The star is similar, in terms of metallicity and mass, to our Sun, although it is hotter and most likely older. The star was first observed in 1997 and is 747 light years from Earth.

WASP-13b, now named “Cruinlagh” (pronounced crunlack)

WASP-13b is an extrasolar planet that was discovered in 2009 in the orbit of the sun-like star WASP-13. The planet has a mass of about a third that of Jupiter but has a radius 22% larger than the gas giant. The exoplanet orbits very close to its host star at approximately only 5% of the distance between the Sun and Earth. It does one full orbit around the star in only four days.

More information can be found at the Wide Angle Search for Planets website as well as at NASA’s Exoplanet Catalog.

Important websites

IAU100 website

IAU 100 NameExoWorlds website

IAU UK Exoworld Completion website