Indian Names To A Star And Its Planet - A white-yellow star in Sextans constellation and its Jupiter-like exoplanets, which were earlier named HD 86081 and 86081b, will now have an Indian name.

Announcement of The International Astronomical Union (IAU):

  • The IAU chose the name at the end of a global contest called ‘NameExoWorlds’, which was organised as part of its centenary celebrations. 
  • The agency had allowed every country in the world to give a famous name to a selected pair of exoplanet and its host star. 
  • India was allotted HD 86081 and its exoplanet HD 86081b.
  • The white-yellow star and the planet in Sextans constellation got the Indian Name.
  • The Star will be called ‘Bhibha’, a pioneering Indian woman scientist, and the planet will be known as ‘Santamasa’ which means ‘clouded’ in Sanskrit. 
  • The star has been named in honour of a pioneering Indian woman scientist Bibha Choudhury, who discovered subatomic particle, pi-meson.
  • Once a star and few of its characteristics are found, they are listed in a catalogue such as Henry Draper Catalogue (HD) and assigned telephone-number-like designations.
  • In India, the campaign was coordinated by the Public Outreach and Education Committee of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI).

Sextans Constellation:

  • Sextans constellation lies in the southern sky, near the celestial equator. 
  • It represents the astronomical sextant. It is the 47th constellation in size.
  • Sextans is located in a dim region of the sky between the constellations Hydra, Crater, and Leo
  • The constellation was created by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. 
  • It is a rather faint one, with only one star brighter than 5th magnitude.

About Exoplanets:

Source: NASA

  • All of the planets in our solar system orbit around the Sun
  • Planets that orbit around other stars are called exoplanets.
  • Exoplanets are very hard to see with telescopes. They are hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit.
  • So, astronomers use other ways to detect and study these distant planets. They search for exoplanets by looking at the effects these planets have on the stars they orbit.
  • One way to search for exoplanets is to look for "wobbly" stars. A star that has planets doesn’t orbit perfectly around its centre. From far away, this off-centre orbit makes the star look like it’s wobbling.

About ‘Bibhā’, nee HD 86081:

  • It is located in the constellation of Sextans
  • It is as hot as the sun, with a surface temperature of about 6,000 degrees Kelvin. 
  • It is 1.55 times bigger, 1.21 times massive, and 1.75 times brighter
  • It is so far away that light from it takes 310.93 years to reach Earth.
  • Due to its distance, it is visible only with a telescope.
  • While Sun, which is five billion years old, is in its middle age, ‘Bibhā’ is an ageing star, 6.210 billion years old.

About Santamasa, HD 86081b:

  • It is the only planet of ‘Bibhā’, nee HD 8608.
  • It is estimated to have a mass of 1.5 times that of Jupiter.
  • It revolves around the Bibhā’, nee HD 8608 in a nearly circular orbit just in 2.1375 days. 
  • Revolving so near the host star, the planet is expected to be very hot. 
  • Significantly, this year's Nobel Prize in Physics has been partly awarded to the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star
  • The first exoplanet was discovered in 1995, designated 51 Pegasi b.
  • The   51 Pegasi b was named Dimidium in the first NameExoWorlds public naming campaign by the IAU in 2015. 
  • Until July 1, 2019, astronomers have identified 4,098 exoplanets of which 665 stars have more than one planet.


The International Astronomical Union (IAU):

  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in 1919
  • HQ: Paris, France
  • Mission:
    • To promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. 
    • An internationally recognized authority to assign designations (names) to celestial bodies (stars, planets, asteroids, etc.) and any surface features on them.
  • Its individual Members — structured into Divisions, Commissions, and Working Groups — are professional astronomers from all over the world, at the PhD level and beyond, who are active in professional research, education and outreach in astronomy


  • Pi-meson or pion is a subatomic particle defined in the particle physics. 
  • They are unstable which exists with positive, negative and neutral charges.
  • They are present in proton, neutron and electron of an atom.

Some of the other names approved by the IAU for other stars and planets from other countries:

  • The names of mythological dogs, Bran, Turin, from the Irish legend for a host star and its exoplanet located in the constellation of Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs).
  • Wadi rum and Petra, names of ancient cities of Jordan for a star and its exoplanet in the constellation of Aquila
  • Baiduri and Intan, names of gemstones in the Malay language for a pair in the constellation of Fornax (the Furnace).
  • Nakambé and Mouhoun, the two prominent rivers of Burkina Faso for a star and exoplanet in the constellation of Eridanus (The River).

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