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New planet named after 'father of Chinese physics'

2012/01/17 20:07:30

Taipei, Jan. 17 (CNA) A planet discovered by two astronomers in 2008 has been named after Wu Ta-you (1907-2000), a Chinese-born atomic and nuclear theoretical physicist known as the "father of contemporary Chinese physics.”

A ceremony was held Tuesday at National Central University (NCU) in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan, in which Ip Wing-huen, a professor at NCU Graduate Institute of Astronomy, presented a certificate and a model of the planet Wutayou to the Taipei-based Wu Ta-you Foundation in honor of Wu's extraordinary contributions to the development of science.

Chou Yi, the head of NCU graduate institute, said that naming the planet was a gesture of respect to the great physicist, who headed Taiwan's top academic research institute, Academia Sinica, from 1983 to 1994.

According to NCU, the planet, with the code number 256892, was jointly discovered in February 2008 by astronomer Lin Chih-sheng, who was stationed at the time at NCU Luling Observatory on Yushan in central Taiwan, and Ye Guanzhi, an astronomer at China's Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen University.

It was not until June 15, 2011 that the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union approved the proposal to name the new planet after the late physicist, NCU said.

Ip said Wutayou is situated in a minor planet belt between Mars and Jupiter. At present, it is close to Libra, a springtime constellation that can be best viewed in the night sky during the month of May, he said.

He also noted that Wutayou is one of more than 800 planets NCU has discovered from its Lulin Observatory. Citing the Minor Planet Center's statistics, he said they show Lulin is one of the world's most active observatories in terms of discovering new planets.

It's a record of discovery that is ranked 47th around the globe, Ip said.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and Elizabeth Hsu)