The only body giving official names to astronomical objects and structures on their surfaces is the International Astronomical Union. It has developed a number of rules for such nomenclature. In the case of asteroids, when the orbit of the object is well known (usually observations in at least four positions in the sky are needed for this), the object is given a sequential number. Then the explorer has the right to propose a name – within 10 years of assigning the number to the asteroid. The proposals are being assessed by the Small Body Naming Working Group of astronomers studying asteroids and comets. If the name meets the criteria, it can be accepted and placed on the official list of names of astronomical objects.
Currently, 22,568 asteroids discovered so far have their own names. On the other hand, numbers have been assigned to 567,132 objects, and more than a million such bodies are known.
The list of recently named small natural objects of the Solar System (considered asteroids) was published by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in three bulletins “WG Small Bodies Nomenclature Bulletins”, which appeared in May and June this year. five more.
The first is (202093) Jogaila, assigned to the asteroid so far known as 2004 TP17. The property was discovered on October 11, 2004. The name refers to the Lithuanian name of Władysław Jagiełło – the Grand Duke of Lithuania (1377-1434) and the King of Poland (1386-1434).
Other new Polish names refer to modern times – primarily in connection with the activities of the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań. The Poznań observatory specializes in the study of asteroids. One of the names was dedicated to the center itself – it is the object (97786) Oauam, which is based on the acronym of the name of this Polish institution (OA UAM). Previously, the object was designated 2000 NU2 and was discovered on July 5, 2000.
The next three asteroids are named after scientists from Poznań who study small bodies of the Solar System. Asteroid (30234) Dudziński was named after Dr. Grzegorz Dudziński, currently assistant professor at AMU. The scientist studies the physical properties of asteroids and develops techniques for modeling their shapes. The object was previously designated 2000 GD167 and was discovered on April 4, 2000.
Asteroid (63440) Rożek was named after Dr. Agata Makieła’s maiden name (he still uses his maiden name in scientific publications). The researcher is a graduate of Adam Mickiewicz University and currently works at the British University of Kent, where she obtained a PhD degree. It conducts optical and radar observations of near-Earth asteroids to determine their shapes and rotation rates, and to study non-gravitational effects on these bodies.
Asteroid (45492) Sławomirbreiter is associated with the name and surname of prof. dr hab. Sławomir Breiter, who has been working at the Poznań observatory for 35 years. In his research work, he focuses on the mechanics of the sky, including the development of theories related to the YORP effect (the effect of light and heat leaving the surface of asteroids on their rotation) and the study of the orbital motion of celestial bodies.
According to Prof. Breiter, devoted the last several years of scientific work mainly to asteroids, so he could hope for such a distinction, but still an evening text message from the director of the Astronomical Observatory, prof. Agnieszka Kryszczyńska (who also has “her” asteroid, number 21776), surprised him a bit, as theorists are less recognizable among observers who usually submit names. “I am glad that so many Poznań astronomers (already 13 in total) have already been commemorated in the Solar System and I appreciate that the orbits of our asteroids are distant from the Earth. It would be strange to read headlines like: Will Sławomirbreiter lead to the destruction of civilization? ” – adds the scientist jokingly.
Among the new names with a looser connection with Poland, it is worth mentioning (534299) Parazynski – from the name of Scott Parazynski, an American astronaut of Polish origin.
Prepared by: PAP / Krzysztof Czart