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NASA has asked the world to suggest names for the newly discovered seven planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system, some of which could potentially host life.
The space agency tweeted out the hashtag #7Namesfor7NewPlanets to round up ideas. The seven exoplanets are know now simply as b, c, d, e, f, g, and h.
Planetary enthusiasts, sci-fi lovers, and geekdom of all different stripes responded in droves. Suggestions ranged from sources like Harry Potter to famous rappers to Star Wars. Others suggested naming the planets after famous composers or Greek gods.
Others suggested naming the planets after the seven crewmembers who died in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger crash. The 31-year anniversary of the Challenger crash was back in January.
Others voiced alarm at insulting the alien natives of the planets. Researchers say that three—perhaps as many as four—out of the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets lie in a “habitable zone,” with the potential capacity to support life.
And in keeping with internet tradition, yes, Planet McPlanetface has been suggested.
NASA traditionally leaves the naming of the TRAPPIST-1 planets up to the International Astronomical Union, an international coalition of over 10,000 professional astronomers from over 96 countries that is headquartered in Paris. IAU has a formal process for naming the planets and often takes public input in consideration.
The Daily Dot has reached out to NASA for more details on what the agency plans to do with the crowdsourced name ideas from its #7Namesfor7NewPlanets Twitter campaign.
Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.