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article imageAstronomer adds support for planet 'Gallifrey'

By Tim Sandle     Jan 5, 2014 in Science
Vanessa Bailey, the astronomer who discovered the planet "HD 1069906B," has lent her support to the planet being named Gallifrey as part of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebrations.
Last month Digital Journal reported that a petition, promoted by fans of the television show Doctor Who, to name a recently discovered planet Gallifrey, had received more than 60,000 supporters. The petition has since expanded to 138,000 signatories. The campaign is led by an Australian named Sam Menhennet.
The planet is currently known as HD 106906 b, and is a gas giant that is estimated to be approximately 11 times the mass of Jupiter orbiting its star at a distance of nearly 60 billion miles, or about 650 times the distance between Earth and the Sun.
Now support for the renaming of the planet has been received from Vanessa Bailey, the astronomer who discovered the planet. Bailey, a student at the University of Arizona, has written a piece that will be included in a letter to be submitted to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The IAU is the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies (stars, planets, asteroids, etc.) and any surface features on them.
The IAU defines a planet as a celestial body which:
1. is in orbit around the Sun,
2. has sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium (a nearly round shape), and
3. has "cleared the neighborhood" around its orbit.
The BBC has so far not commented on whether it supports the campaign.
More about Astronomer, Gallifrey, Astronomy, Planet, Doctor Who
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