TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The scientific achievement of naming a star and exoplanet has been tarnished for Taiwanese astronomers after the International Astronomical Union (IAU) listed them as coming from "China Taipei."
In order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the IAU, the body allowed member states to participate in the naming of exoplanets for the first time. Although the names of a star and an exoplanet submitted by Taiwanese astronomers were recognized, their country was listed as "China Taipei."
In total, more than 110 countries participated in the event, including Taiwan, which provided a name for star HD 100655b, a giant yellow star in the Leo constellation, and its exoplanet HD 100655. Taiwanese astronomers sorted through over 120 suggestions before selecting "Formosa" for HD 100655b and "Sazum" for its exoplanet.
The name "Formosa" means "beautiful" in Portuguese and refers to the original name given to Taiwan by Portuguese sailors in 1542. "Sazum" is the traditional name of Nantou County's Yuchi Township and means "water" in the Thao indigenous language.
Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics director Chu You-hua (朱有花) said that Taiwan's listing is the result of a compromise agreed to in 1979, reported newtalk. The Republic of China (ROC) had originally joined the IAU in 1935, but when Communist China entered the organization in 1959, it began objecting to Taiwan's membership.
As both countries at the time insisted on using "China" in their names, the IAU in 1979 came up with the odd compromise of listing Taiwan as "China Taipei" and Communist China as "China Nanjing." Chu told the news agency that the naming scheme was implemented in 1982 and is not related to the recent campaign by Beijing to have all online listings of Taiwan changed to "Taiwan, China."
(Screenshot from IAU website)