Proposal to Rename Centauri B Prime

Author: Beck Dacus

Perhaps the most famous planet in the colonized Galaxy– aside from Earth, of course– Centauri B Prime may have the highest standard of living in the Milky Way. It is a center for scientific innovation, has borne some of our most accomplished artists, and has had a pivotal role in all of human galactic history. After the disappointing discovery that Proxima B, like many planets in dwarf star habitable zones, was an airless rock, Centauri B Prime reignited hope and astronomical interest. The more we learned about it, the more we fell in love with it. It turned out to be a so-called “superhabitable planet” orbiting Alpha Centauri B, a star slightly smaller than our Sun in the Alpha Centauri System. Its size gives the star an extended natural lifetime, meaning its crown jewel planet will still be livable when Earth has been turned to ash. Its gravity is also higher than Earth’s, reducing variation in altitude, making many of the seas shallow and conducive to life. This also improved the immune systems of the first settlers, making it a safe haven for the refugees from the Plague of 2344 and giving the inhabitants one of the longest average lifespans of anywhere in the Human Confederacy.

When we began earnest industrialization, we found that the crust of the world was rich in heavy metals. Alpha Centauri A had gravitationally kicked Cen. B’s asteroid field into a closer orbit during the system’s youth, and Centauri B Prime was caught in the path. These asteroids deposited platinum-group metals all around the surface of the planet, on top of which an extensive biosphere grew. With it, we built towering cities, great fusion reactors, and a second-generation colonization fleet. Dozens of worlds were born from just this one, humanity’s first true colony. And that was even before the planet saw the birth of Antessa Reilir, inventor of the faster-than-light Reilir Drive.

One would not be remiss in saying many of us would not be here if it had not been for Centauri B Prime. However, in the time you have been reading this, you may have noticed its one flaw: the cumbersome name. Clearly we need to consider coming up with a new label for this world, one that can be used easily in conversation without depreciating the value of the world to our history and our society over the centuries. We here at the International Astronomical Union have thought on the issue: we have considered the contributions that the people of the planet have made to our scientific understanding; we have noted the value of the planet’s own properties in advancing such fields as geology and life science; and we have acknowledged the quality of life that the world has afforded its inhabitants and those in need. The planet holds a special place in our hearts, and even after its star has torn it to pieces, we will be sure to remember it. It is for all these reasons that we propose changing its official name to Planet Hawking in our databases, to commemorate the scientist with a grand world, and to honor the world with the name of a great scientist. I think the Confederate citizens will agree that the two would get along quite well.


  1. SimonJM

    Certainly a topical name change, but as much as I’d agree, I have minor reservation about naming a planet after a scientist whose main body of work (as I understand it) revolved around the theories of black holes … 😉 Copernicus, maybe? A nice idea nonetheless and I’m amazed the planet lasted that long with such a mouthful of a name!

  2. Tom Mazanec

    Actually, Alpha Centauri A will become a red giant and probably cause a runaway greenhouse in Hawking’s atmosphere by the time the sun does the same to Earth.

    • BeckD

      True– but whereas Earth will likely be swallowed by its Sun, Hawking has a chance to recover from the catastrophe in its neighboring solar system. Even if it can’t do so naturally, it has been colonized, so we could probably terraform it back to habitability. We might even be able to position a sunshade at the second Lagrange point to block out the increasing insolation from Cen. A.

      • Tom Mazanec

        The Lagrange point sunshade would shade Alpha Centauri B, but not Alpha Centauri A.

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