Here’s your chance to name Sweden’s new planet and star

Sweden is inviting people to help name a Jupiter-like exoplanet that orbits a star four times wider than the sun. Here's how to cast your vote.

Here's your chance to name Sweden's new planet and star
An artist's impression of what the planet and star could look like. Photo: Livia Pietrow/TT

The exoplanet, called HD 102956 b and located 400 light years away, was discovered in 2010 by American astronomer John Johnson. But it is set to get a more catchy name, and you get to help decide exactly what.

The work to name the planet and is host star (HD 102956) started in June, when Swedish residents sent in more than 1,600 suggestions for names, and a jury has now handpicked a shortlist of five candidates.

They are:

Dunfin and Akka, which were two of the geese in Nobel Prize-winning Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf's book The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, which tells the story of a mischievous young boy who is turned into a small tomte (a Swedish mythological figure) and travels across Sweden on a goose. Akka also happens to be the name of one of Sweden's tallest mountains, Áhkká, which means 'old woman' in the Lule Sami language.

Isagel and Aniara, the names of the pilot and the spaceship in Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson's science fiction poem from 1956, about a group of colonists from a dying Earth who are travelling to Mars when they are knocked out of the Solar System and forced to continue to travel aimlessly through space.

Ratatosk and Yggdrasil, the name of a squirrel and the world tree Yggdrasil on which he runs up and down to carry messages between a serpent and lion in Norse mythology.

Skoll and Alfrödull, also from Norse mythology. Skoll was a giant wolf who chased the sun and devoured it at Ragnarök, the end of time, and Alfrödull was the name of the sun's chairot.

Tjovke and Naestie, South Sami words for 'bear cub' and 'star'. Naestie is also the word used to refer to the bear's eye during traditional bear hunting when speaking about the bear using the usual vocabulary was considered bad luck – for example the Sami would refer to the bear itself as 'old fur man' during the hunt.

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Where Sweden's small planetary system can be seen. Photo: Tobias Forslund/TT

You can vote here any time before 7.04pm on November 11th.

The competition, IAU100 NameExoWorlds, is organized by the International Astronomical Union and allows any country in the world to name a small planetary system. An exoplanet is a planet outside the Solar System and each country has been awarded a planet and host star that can be seen from most of their country. 

Sweden's exoplanet is located in the middle of the Big Dipper or Ursa Major, near the star Megrez. It can be seen from Sweden on a dark and clear night with a good pair of binoculars or a telescope.

Swedish vocabulary

Big Dipper – Karlavagnen

spaceship – (ett) rymdskepp

star – (en) stjärna

bear – (en) björn

binoculars – (en) kikare)

We're aiming to help our readers improve their Swedish by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find it useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

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