Malta picks Ġgantija and Sansuna for a planet and star in the Sagitta constellation

In a galaxy far, far away...

The names of 112 sets of exoplanets and host stars named in the IAU100 NameExoWorlds campaigns were announced at a press conference in Paris, with Malta’s public also represented in the name selection.

112 countries organised national campaigns that attracted the direct participation of over 780,000 people worldwide, who proposed and selected names for each exoplanet and its host star for the  International Astronomical Union’s 100th anniversary commemorations (IAU100).

In the case of Malta and Gozo, the Maltese public selected the names Ġgantija for the exoplanet and Sansuna for the star. Both names are associated with the megalithic temples of Ġgantija on the island of Gozo, Malta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ġgantija, or ‘giantess’, is the megalithic temple complex on the island of Gozo, which alludes to the grandeur of this gas giant exoplanet. Sansuna is the name of the mythological giant from traditional Maltese folk tales that carried the stones of the Gozo megalithic temples on her head.

The exoplanet and star (HAT-P-34) are in the Sagitta constellation.

The IAU100 NameExoWorlds global project was conceived to create awareness of man’s place in the Universe and to reflect on how the Earth would potentially be perceived by a civilisation on another planet.

As the IAU is the authority responsible for assigning official designations and names to celestial bodies, the IAU100 celebrations in 2019 were used as a special occasion to offer every country the chance to name one planetary system, comprising an exoplanet and its host star.

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them.

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