Slate calls it “The Planet That Shouldn’t Be There.” International Business Times deems it a “Mysterious Alien Planet.” The International Astronomical Union dubs it simply “HD 106906 b.” Sixteen-year-old Sam Menhennet of Melbourne wants to name it “Gallifrey.” From his Change.org petition:
International Astronomical Union : To rename the newly discovered planet “HD 106906 b” to Gallifrey! In honour of Doctor Who and its 50 years! #GallifreyFound
I really want this planet to be named Gallifrey. Even if it just an honorary name, or a nickname, there really needs to be a Gallifrey out there in the universe. Doctor Who is legendary, award winning, record breaking, and global, and this planet deserves something special and supernatural as its name, How better to honor its existence than by dubbing it the home planet of our beloved time travelling alien, The Doctor? Years from now, when I have grandchildren, and I tell them about my favorite show growing up, I want to tell them that we found the planet that The Doctor was from. Do it for the fandom! Please share! and get evreyone whovian to sign this petition!
I hate to burst the kid’s bubble, but despite the fact that a link to the petition shows up on the IAU’s In the Media page (which is likely bot-created, anyway), the IAU’s stance on the naming of exoplanets suggests this renaming isn’t going to happen anytime soon:
In 2009, the Organizing Committee of IAU Commission 53 Extrasolar Planets (WGESP) on exoplanets discussed the possibility of giving popular names to exoplanets in addition to their existing catalogue designation (for instance HD 85512 b). Although no consensus was reached, the majority was not in favour of this possibility at the time.
However, considering the ever increasing interest of the general public in being involved in the discovery and understanding of the Universe, the IAU decided in 2013 to restart the discussion of the naming procedure for exoplanets and assess the need to have popular names as well. In 2013 the members of Commission 53 will be consulted in this respect and the result of this will be made public on this page.
The nomenclature for exoplanets is indeed a difficult matter that deserves careful attention in many aspects. Such a system must take into account that discoveries are often tentative, later to be confirmed or rejected, possibly by several different methods, and that several planets belonging to the same star may eventually be discovered, again possibly by different means. Thus, considerable care and experience are required in its design.
image is a NASA artist’s speculative rendering of the planet
(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)