Newly Discovered Exoplanet Named After “Potter” Character

A recent discovery made by citizen scientists has been named after a Harry Potter character, but at 309 light-years from Earth, you’ll need more than a broomstick to see it.

The newfound extrasolar planet, also known as an exoplanet, is officially known as TOI 4633 c, but has been less formally dubbed Percival, after the father of Albus Dumbledore. The planet is around three times the size of Earth and sits comfortably in its sun-sized star’s “Goldilocks zone,” the distance where temperatures are neither too cold nor too hot to allow for the existence of liquid water.



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And, just as the character of Percival had far-reaching influence via his progeny, the exoplanet is particularly remarkable in the length of its orbit. It is one of only five with orbits longer than 100 days that have been identified by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) since it was launched in 2018. The satellite’s data is made available to citizen scientists, who assist with research.

Despite these exciting characteristics, it’s unlikely Percival is a habitable planet. Much like Neptune, it appears to consist mostly of water vapor, hydrogen, and methane, and it probably lacks any sort of solid surface. However, if similar gas giants are any indication, Percival could possess exomoons that are more friendly to supporting life forms.

This is not the first time wizarding world characters have found themselves the inspiration behind the names of scientific discoveries. The snake Maledictus Nagini, for example, influenced the nomenclature of a new species of tardigrade found in Finnish sand dunes, the Macrobiotus naginae, toward the end of 2022. More recently, a species of ant was christened after the Dark Lord himself, bearing the fearsome title Leptanilla voldemort.