This is real, my friends. People are really doing this. There is a petition right now on Change.org to do what the Doctor hasn’t been able to do for the past almost nine years: find Gallifrey. Or, to be more accurate, name Gallifrey. Yes, the newly discovered extrasolar planet, now sporting the unwieldy moniker of HD 106906 b, is in the process of being officially, or honorarily, named Gallifrey, thanks to the power of the people.
Melbourne native Sam Menhennet began the petition a few days ago to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and wants the human race to forever recognize the impact of the series in astronomy textbooks for years to come. The planet, which was only recently spotted, is eleven times the size of Jupiter. For reference, Jupiter is about 11.5 times the size of the Earth, meaning “Gallifrey” 126.5 times the size of our humble, human-filled rock. It is also 650 Astronomical Units away from its host star, HD 106906 a. An Astronomical Unit is the distance between Earth and our Sun. It currently has the furthest orbit of any planet we know of to date.
The petition currently has just under half of the 100,000 signatures it needs to go before the International Astronomical Union. That’s not that much, really. I figure there are enough Doctor Who fans out there to get this thing all the signatures it needs in a jiffy. Is it important for scientific purposes? Not really, but just like the Doctor, it’d sort of be comforting to know that Gallifrey’s out there somewhere.