Minor Planet

Context

  • A minor planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter has been named after the legendary vocalist Pandit Jasraj.

What is a ‘minor planet’?

  • Minor planets are celestial objects orbiting the Sun that are not large enough for their gravity to pull them into a spherical shape.
  • This distinguishes a minor planet — or a “small Solar System body”, which is now the preferred term — from planets or “dwarf planets”, which are almost spherical.
  • Small Solar System bodies include asteroids, comets, and several other celestial objects that go around the Sun.

How are they named?

  • Names of celestial bodies are finally approved by a committee at the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a global organisation of professional astronomers, which also decides on definitions of fundamental astronomical and physical constants.
  • In the case of small Solar System bodies, the discoverer has the privilege to suggest the name. The discoverer holds this privilege for 10 years since the discovery. But there is a process to be followed, and not all names are acceptable.
  • Once it is determined that a celestial body is indeed new, a provisional name is given. This name has the year of discovery, two letters of the alphabet and, perhaps, two numbers.
  • The minor planet that has been named after Pandit Jasraj was initially called ‘2006VP32’.
  • Once more information is available about the body, particularly its orbit, and after it has been sighted on at least four occasions, it is entitled to have a permanent number. In this case, the number allotted was 300128. Only after this is the discoverer invited to suggest a name.

What are the requirements of the name?

  • There are rules for nomenclature, and restrictions on the names that can be suggested. The proposed name must have 16 characters or less, it must be “non-offensive”, and not too similar to an existing name.
  • Names of political or military leaders can be suggested only 100 years after their death.
  • The same applies for a political or military event. Names of pets, and names of a commercial nature are “discouraged”.
  • There can be restrictions depending on where the body is located — for example, new objects discovered beyond Neptune are supposed to be given names of creation deities

About Pandit Jasraj

  • Pandit Jasraj is an Indian classical vocalist, belonging to the Mewati gharana 
  • He is a recepient of Padma Vibhushan
  • Pandit Jasraj is the 1st Indian Musician, to join the galaxy of immortal composers such as Mozart, Beethoven and Tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Source: Indian Express