I suppose space scientists think they can win support for their research by giving new planets sexy names now?
The two worlds circling 24 Sextanis are also in a close embrace, keeping within about 70 million miles (112.6 million kilometers) of each other.
What the CalTech release fails to mention is that the planets have names: 24 Sex b and 24 Sex c.
Sometimes newer stars get named after the instruments or techniques used to find them, giving us exoplanets with names such as OGLE-TR-56b.
That’s thanks to the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), which was designed to study variability in starlight.
Sex C? OGLE? Those of us who follow pro wrestling (or, alternately, those of us who’ve gone through eighth grade) have seen terrible puns like this before, and the man responsible is one Vince Russo, a writer who likes his entendre obvious and juvenile. (Look up “The Johnsons” in wrestling history and you’ll see what I mean.) Clearly NASA has hired Russo to find a new, younger, brasher audience for their projects. That means space suits that show more skin, astronauts with “gimmick” personalities (expect a porn star astronaut who serves as a “payload specialist”) and, of course, risque names for heavenly bodies. I’ve Russo-ized the map of these new planets just to give you an idea of what the space program will look like from here on out:
Here’s one last thought that will keep you up at night: Russo loves to make up dirty acronyms. And now he’s working for NASA, where basically everything is an acronym. Houston, we have a problem.