Unprecedented: Exoplanet and Host Star Given Moroccan Amazigh Names

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Scientists at a press conference organized Tuesday in Paris have given an exoplanet and a host star  two Moroccan Amazigh (Berber) names.

Scientist at a Paris press conference organized in the framework of a campaign by the International Astronomical Union decided to give Moroccan names of Isli and Tislit to an exoplanet and a host star.

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The word Isli means fiancé and Tislit means a fiancée in Amazigh language. There also exist two lakes with these names 14 km from Imilchil, in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The lakes are about 9 kilometers away from each other and the names are based on a romantic, tragic mythology dubbed Moroccan Romeo & Juliet.

112 countries took part in the campaign that was organized on the occasion of 100th anniversary commemorations of the International Astronomic Union (IAU100). The campaign, dubbed IAU100 NameExoWorlds, is the second in the history of IAU and consists of giving names to 112 exoplanets and host stars.

780 000 people from around the world took part in this global project and resulted in “360 000 proposals for names […] from 112 countries.”

Eric Mamajek, co-chair of the NameExoWorlds Steering Committee stated

“Astronomical observations over the past generation have now discovered over 4000 planets orbiting other stars — called exoplanets. The number of discoveries continues to double about every 2½ years, revealing remarkable new planet populations and putting our own Earth and Solar System in perspective.”

He added that astronomers have given these discoveries “telephone-number-like designations”. However, scholars and the public have had a growing interested to assign proper names to them.

According to IAU official websites, an exoplanet and a host star were named after Irish mythological dogs, Bran and Tuiren. Jordan gave them names of the two ancient cities of wardirum and Petra, and Burkina Faso named them after Nakambé and Mouhoun, two prominent rivers in the country.

 

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