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'Doctor Who' fans petition to rename new planet 'Gallifrey'

An online petition calls on the International Astronomical Union to get all timey-wimey and name a planet "Gallifrey."

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Matt Smith as the Doctor
The Doctor wants you to rename a planet. BBC

"Doctor Who" fans sure know how to work a petition.

Not long after petitioning to have the Empire State Building lit up in Tardis-blue, fans are now pushing to have a newly discovered planet renamed "Gallifrey," in honor of the Doctor's home world.

You don't have to be a "Doctor Who" nut to know this is a good idea. The planet is currently known as "HD 106906 b," which sounds more like a really good password than an actual name. The planet is currently the most distantly orbiting planet around a single Sun-like star that astronomers have been able to identify.

There is some precedence for the public suggesting names for heavenly bodies. The fourth and fifth moons of Pluto got their names ("Kerberos" and "Styx") from suggestions generated by a public contest.

The Change.org petition was started by Whovian Sam Menhennet from Australia. "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!" Menhennet writes.

The petition is currently up more than 111,000 signatures, with a goal of 150,000 signers. It will be delivered to members of the International Astronomical Union, as well as Vanessa Bailey, the astronomy graduate student who led the team that made the discovery.

If "Gallifrey" somehow makes the cut as a planet name, perhaps it will open the floodgates to bringing sci-fi and superhero nomenclature to the heavens. Could a "Tatooine" or "Krypton" be far behind?