The name of the largest minor planet in our solar system has been left up to the public vote. The planet has been nameless for the last decade, so astronomers believe it is time for that to change. Voting for the name ends on May 10th, so outer space enthusiasts have quite some time to decide on the perfect name.
Meg Schwamb, Mike Brown, and Davin Rabinowitz discovered the planet 10 years ago, and it has since then been known as 2007 OR10. The trio were searching for distant solar system bodies within the Kuiper belt, the location where Pluto resides. One day, their telescope discovered a bright fuzzy blob that must be a planet. The body appeared smaller than Pluto, and it was on an orbit scattered by Neptune. Its surface, much like other bodies in the Kuiper belt, are made of volatile ices. What makes it unique, however, is its very red surface.
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The poll for the planet’s name contains three suggested names based on its physical properties: Gonggong, Holle, or Vili. Gonggong is a Chinese red-haired water god known for creating chaos, flooding the land, and tilting the Earth. Holle is a European winter goddess of fertility and rebirth, and she is also the patron god of household crafts. Vili is a Nordic deity who helped Odin and Vé defeat the frost giant Ymir, with whose body he created the universe.
None of the names, however, fit with the theme of the main planets of our solar system. All are named after Roman gods, and none of the suggested names are of Roman descent. While this would be breaking the tradition, it would be interesting to have a planet named after a god or deity of a different tradition.
Voting closes on May 10th, so those who want to contribute to the planet’s name should speak up soon. The fate of this planet’s future is in our hands, as we will forever be responsible for how it will be referred to in the future. We will be making history, so we better get it right.