Home Columns Anantha Narayan Plutoa��s big brother

Till January 20, Mike Brown was a massive hate figure. He was the badass astronomer with the Twitter handle @plutokiller who got booed for reducing our beloved Pluto into an impotent snowball. Having caused a cosmic uproar, he decided to make amends by discovering Planet Nine, with 29-year-old astrophysicist Konstanin Batygin. And what a giant discovery ita��s turned out to be. Planet Nine has 10 times the mass of Earth and, despite being so huge, the big fellaa��s got very little gravitational influence on Earth because ita��s located far away from the sun.

The thing that has everyone excited is the obvious question: a�?What are we gonna call it?a�? Browna��s 10-year-old daughter Lilah is already calling it Planet Lilah. Giv en the Godzilla-esque proportions, Brown and Batygin are informally referring to it as a�?Fattya��. But the Intern ational Astrono-mical Union is in no hurry as the planet might take at least five years to get sighted. But that hasna��t deterred anyone. Some want to call it a�?Mickeya�� after Mickey Mouse. David Bowie fans want it named a�?Bowiea��, but thata��s a really long shot as the convention is to name space oddities after Roman or Greek mythology characters. Given this constraint, the list has narrowed down to: a�?Terminusa��, the Roman god of borders; a�?Vulcana��, the Roman god of fire; a�?Bacchusa��, the Roman god of agriculture and wine; a�?Nyxa��, the Greek goddess of the night; a�?Ulyssesa��, the Greek hero of Homera��s Illiad; a�?Apolloa��, the Greek god of light; and a�?Minervaa��, the goddess of wisdom. There have been a few wild card entries. One smart aleck wants the name to change every year to raise megabucks from corporations. Pluto sympathisers feel ita��s a sequel after all. Therefore, a�?Plutwoa�� should suffice. If you ask me, Ia��d say, why not not a�?Bheema��? That way, future Star Trekkers could go, a�?Bheem me up, Scotty.a�?


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