Of heroic figure the figure of the heavens, Viriato, the leader of the Lusitanian people in Ancient Rome, is also the name of a giant gas planet orbiting a star, Lusitania, 114 light years from Earth, was announced today.
The names of the extrasolar planet and its star were proposed by Portugal and approved by the International Astronomical Union (UAI), which launched a new campaign to name these "exomundo" in the year that celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The results, which dictated names to 112 planets outside the Solar System and their stars, were released today by the UAI, led by Portuguese astronomer Teresa Lago.
Names approved by the UAI, which officially recognizes the naming of a celestial body as a planet, were proposed by 112 countries, including Portugal, during national campaigns involving public voting.
In all, 112 names were chosen from an initial list of 360,000, which was reduced and subject to voting in each country. Final approval came from a multi-member UAI committee, including Portuguese astronomer Lina Canas.
One of the criteria was that the proposed names would have to be related to objects, people or places with cultural, historical or geographical significance.
The planet HD 45652b, now called Viriato, which led the Lusitanian people against the rule of the Roman Empire in the Iberian Peninsula, was discovered in 2008 and is mostly gas, being located in the constellation Monoceros (Unicorn).
Its star, 'HD 45652', named Lusitania, which was one of the three Roman provinces of the Iberian Peninsula where the Lusitanian people lived and which coincided for the most part with current Portuguese territory, is an orange dwarf, which its planet takes 44.1 days to complete an orbit.
The first public campaign promoted by UAI to nominate exoplanets took place in 2015.