If we discovered another planet in our Solar System, what would we call it?

A new planet needs a name – but what we would we call it if it was found in our Solar System?

An artist's impression of a dwarf planet. Image Credit: NASA

An artist’s impression of a dwarf planet. Image Credit: NASA

Asked by Janet Darren

Planets are often named after Roman gods and goddesses, so it’s assumed that another world discovered in our Solar System would also be named after them too. The individuals that make the final decision are members of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) – a collection of professional astronomers currently involved in research and the education of astronomy.

It’s unlikely that we’ll find any new worlds bigger than Pluto. Using telescopes on Earth, we’ve found many objects that don’t quite reach full planet status. These are called Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) or Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) and they are named after gods and goddesses of various cultures. Objects that are larger than KBOs and TNOs fit into the dwarf planet category, like Pluto, which was famously demoted from ‘classical planet’ status in 2006.

Answered by Zoe Baily from the National Space Centre

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