Fri, 18 Jan 2013 08:55:10 GMT

New asteroid named after Hebrew University



Jerusalem, Jan 17 (PTI) A newly discovered asteroid has been named in honour of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

The asteroid 271,763 was discovered by Dr David H Levy and Wendee Levy from Arizona, and Tom Glinos from Canada. Levy is famous for his co-discovery of the Comet ShoemakerLevy 9, which collided with the planet Jupiter in 1994 in the first collision of two solar system bodies ever observed.

Levy wanted to name an asteroid after the Hebrew University since completing a PhD at its English Department in June 2010.

After rejecting the originally proposed name "Hebrewuniversity" as being too long, the IAU''s Committee on Small Body Nomenclature later accepted the university''s nickname "Hebrewu" and the asteroid''s name was announced on November 2, 2012.

In his initial outreach to the university, Levy said, "congratulations on being one of the few universities to be honoured with a world in space. We have wanted to do this ever since I was awarded a PhD in June 2010 by the Hebrew University, one of the leading research institutions in the world".

"Perhaps someday the university, which I am proud to call an alma mater, will be able to put this new piece of real estate to good academic use. In the meantime, it is a world with sunrises and sunsets, much smaller but similar to our own," Levy said.

"The Hebrew University is delighted by Dr Levy''s extraordinary gesture and proud to join the exclusive list of institutions whose names are recorded among the stars," University President Menahem Ben-Sasson said in a statement.

It is estimated that less than 20 universities worldwide have an asteroid named after them.

According to astronomer Paul Chodas of NASA''s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the asteroid has a diameter of just under two kilometers.

Located in the asteroid belt that stretches between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter, Hebrewu poses no threat to the Earth and is not expected to draw near any time soon.

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