There are 7 strange quasi-moons on Earth – and you could name one of them

The looping trajectory of 2004 GU9 around the Earth. | Credit: Data source: HORIZONS System, JPL, NASA, created by wiki User:Phoenix7777

Objects in space are usually given two names. One is formal, and the other is fun. It makes sense. Researchers need precise nomenclature to ensure their exoplanet catalogs and black hole references are consistent, communicative and clear – but, as conscious people, they must also cultivate good vibrations. I mean, a supposed galaxy cluster is literally nicknamed “ACT-CL J0102-4915” El Gordo, which translates to “The Fat One,” because of its heft; an extremely ancient kingdom recorded as “CEERS2_5429” also passes by Maisie’s galaxy.

Maisie is the name of the discoverer’s young daughter. He found the galaxy on his ninth birthday.

The list goes on. A ton Cosmic objects have this dual priority of business-first-party-last — but, importantly, not all of them. And that’s where you come in. The International Astronomical Union, which oversees naming procedures for celestial objects and phenomena, is inviting the public Submit name ideas for one of the half moons of the Earth. Currently, the object is named 2004 GU9, or asteroid 164207 – but it is called a “moon” because it is tagged with the gravitational tides of our planet as Our Moon™️. However, 2004 GU9 is “quasi”. satellite because its orbit is also driven by other forces, making it unstable. In fact, this strange object will not always be hanging around our corner of the earth Solar system. After the year 2600 or so, it is hoping to zip away.

The competition is held in partnership with the Radiolab podcast, hosted by Latif Nasser and Lulu Miller. The reason for this is that, not too long ago, Nasser he managed to name a close moon of his own. By accident.

Related: Zoozve — a strange ‘moon’ of Venus that earned its name by accident

A little over a year ago, Nasser was tucking his son into bed, facing the wall, when he noticed something strange on a poster of the solar system that he had hung there a while back. Apparently, Venus There was a moon named “Zoozve.” Sounded kinda weird, but not weird enough to make him start questioning everything. Later, he ran a quick Google search about Zoozve out of curiosity because, well, isn’t Venus known to be moonless? “Venus has no moons,” the internet confirmed. Then, Nasser began to question everything.

Long story short, after a great detective saga, Nasser managed to uncover the truth with the help of Liz Landau, a senior communications specialist at NASA headquarters in Washington. What he saw on the poster was one of Venus’ cavity-moons, and was named 2002 VE. The handwriting was just beautiful. But the story gets even better.

After realizing this, Nasser decided to contact the International Astronomical Union to see if he and his Radiolab team could officially name the quasi-moon Zoozve. Because, well, VE 2002 didn’t have its “fun” name yet.

It worked; Zoozve is now cemented astronomy history.

“Now, it’s your turn,” Nasser tells me on Zoom, meaning “you” in the collective sense. (The best one I came up with isn’t even permanently printed online).

“This time, it’s really one of the Earths,” he said, “so it’s closer to home; he is one of ours.”

Three of them WorldSeven half-neighbors have enough scientific support to be considered “official” pseudo-moons, according to Nasser. Of those three, “we picked the weirdest one,” he said. “We picked the one that made a shape that we were like: ‘Whoa.'” As for the object itself? It’s a gray-green rock that’s probably rough on the surface, shaped like an uneven blob, and something like the size of the Eiffel Tower-ish.

A mythological resurrection

There is a bit of a caveat in this nomination contest. You see, Nasser’s success is due in part to his elegant personality, in part to luck. “Zoozve,” technically, is not an acceptable name by the IAU’s recent new standards.

Rather, the IAU would space marvels to be named after such majestic figures. He wants mythological names. Zoozve, Nasser believes, Zoozve only made the cut because the IAU seemed to notice the “cuteness” (in the organization’s words) of its origin story. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you look at it – the IAU is likely to be stricter with the new near-moon nomenclature effort. This, however, will not stop Nasser from dreaming. And, seeing as he and several other Radiolab staff members will be part of the judging committee, there may be room for a “wild card,” he suggested.

“If there are names that are kind of extraordinary and not mythological, we will try to tell them,” said Nasser. “We’re more on the, kind of, fun side of, ‘Maybe Mooney should be McMoonface!’ I think they’re more on the side of, ‘This is not a silly, whimsical gag to be up there for good.'”

For all Boat McBoatface the boat, Roo-ver the moon rover and Bold boy the rocket, there is a Slim the asteroid, Ceres the dwarf planet and Andromeda the galaxy.

Nasser also sees merit in the mythological names, even mentioning that the team hopes to bring in astrologers and mythological experts to weigh in. ‘They’re from,’ he said, ‘here you are naming something from your culture in the sky, and that’s beautiful.’

“Something that has that kind of spirit of mischiness and unpredictability, perhaps,” he suggested, looking as if it would be a nod to the instability of the quasi-moons in general. “What attracted me to quasi-moons in the first place was the way they make shapes in space that I didn’t think were possible.”

A full list of the guidelines can be found here, but there are two main aspects that Nasser wants to emphasize. First of all, anyone can join, regardless of age. Parents can enter on behalf of children who are not over the age limit, and they can also slip in a submission for themselves. Age is just a number when it comes to the cosmos. Eventually, the names will be narrowed down to 10 finalists, and the committee will go from there.

Second, ultimately, the question you might want to ask yourself, Nasser said: “What is that name that you could only think of – that no one else would think of?” ?

“Send us that name.”

We are just playing the Game of Life

Probably one of the most widespread examples of object space naming is the program “Name a Star” which I’m sure many a dramatic soap opera uses as a plot point. Just look at the phrase “star name” and the options will pop up. I can see both sides of the value of such an activity – it may feel a little meaningless to name something that lives in the midst of infinity, something you will never experience. However, it may feel very “owner” of a corner of it the universe, especially because of the infinite nature of the universe.

But Nasser actually takes a different view, one that falls somewhere in between: Being responsible for the name of a quasi-moon of Venus is like playing the Game of Life.

Let me paint a picture.

Imagine that you are one of those minor characters who jump into the Life car. You roll the dice. You move a few spaces. Oh look, you get to pick up a Life Tile. What did Life bring you this time? “It’s like ‘recording a hit single!’ Nasser explained, “or ‘win the Nobel Prize!'”

If you won this Earth-moon naming contest, it might be like getting one of those Life Tiles – not necessarily life-changing, because you’d still have to finish the game and collecting a lot more tiles, but it doesn’t have to be unimportant. you would have to keep your tiles until the end of the game. It’s always nice to look back at those tiles after the game is over too.

Related Stories:

— Earth’s strange ‘quasi-moon’ Kamo’oalewa It is a fragment that erupted from a large lunar crater

— Earth has a new ‘quasi-moon’ after newly discovered asteroid 2023 FW13

– Moon rocks blasted off the surface of the moon could be near-Earth asteroids

“Having a hand to name something that will surpass me – there’s something very special about that,” said Nasser. “It helps me zoom out a little bit from my life in a way that’s so satisfying, like when things are frustrating in my life. It’s a potato rock, but somehow I feel this relationship with it.”

It also greatly adds to the “cuteness” of your life, as the IAU agrees.

“I have a former professor who I am still close to,” said Nasser. “She named one of her goats Zoozve.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *