Meg SchwambMay 29, 2019

The People Have Voted on 2007 OR10's Future Name!

The results from the 2007 OR10 naming suggestion competition are in! Thanks to everyone who voted in the past month. We’ve been blown away by your response. We counted more than 280,000 votes in total!

Results of the public 2007 OR10 name voting opportunity
Results of the public 2007 OR10 name voting opportunity Image: Meg Schwamb

I had wanted to have some kind of public involvement in picking the naming suggestion for 2007 OR10 since nearly 10 years ago. I was thinking about what it might look like when I was packing up after grad school to move from Pasadena to New Haven for my first post-doctoral research positions. I’ve moved a few more times, New Haven to Taipei, Taipei to Hawai`i. Each time, I thought about 2007 OR10 and whether I would ever get this public campaign off the ground. Now I’m moving again, nearly to the opposite side of the world from Hawai`i. In between moving boxes and paperwork, I’ve been keeping an eye on the 2007 OR10 vote. Here are the final results.

Gonggong is the winner! Vili took the lead for a long while, but in the final stretch Gonggong surged, taking the lead. Gonggong is a Chinese water god with red hair and a serpent-like tail. He is known for creating chaos, causing flooding, and tilting the Earth. A fitting choice.

So can we start calling 2007 OR10 Gonggong? Not quite yet. Gonggong is the fan favorite name for this icy distant world, but the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature has the final say. Now, Mike, David, and I will write up the proposal citation with some text about why Gonggong is an appropriate name for 2007 OR10. We will submit the name and supporting text to the Minor Planet Center, which will send it onward to the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature. 

The IAU Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature has the final say and could accept or reject the naming suggestion. In most cases, the Committee adopts the name suggested by the discoverers as long as it fits the naming guidelines. We tried to find mythologies from across the world that fit the IAU naming criteria and whose origin and characteristics related in some way to the properties we know for 2007 OR10, so we think there's a good chance Gonggong will become the official name. If the top choice is not accepted, we will submit Vili for consideration. I don’t know how long it will take for everything to be finalized, but we’ll keep you posted on this process. The accepted name will be published in the Minor Planet Circulars, issued monthly by the Minor Planet Center.

What about its moon? Once 2007 OR10’s permanent name is bestowed, the moon can be named, but not by us. David, Mike, and I didn’t find the moon, so it’s up to the discovery team, Csaba Kiss and collaborators, to decide what they would like to do. Per the IAU rules, the name of the satellite will have to be related to mythology/name of the primary body in some way. It will be great for both these bodies to no longer be nameless. 

Want to know how to pronounce "Gonggong?" Listen here (pronunciation provided by astronomer Quanzhi Ye).

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