Dr Who fan petition to name planet Gallifrey

KARL QUINN
Last updated 16:36 11/12/2013
HD106906
NASA/JPL-Caltech

REGENERATED: An artist's impression of a young planet in a distant orbit around its host star, similar to the HD106906 system that Doctor Who fans want to see renamed Gallifrey.

Sam Menhennet
Fairfax
GALLIFREY STANDS: Doctor Who fan Sam Menhennet.

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Homeless for hundreds of years, the Doctor may finally have a place to call his own - thanks to a 16-year-old from Werribee.

Sam Menhennet has launched a petition on change.org asking the International Astronomical Union to change the name of a newly discovered planet to Gallifrey, the name of the birthplace of the wandering Time Lord.

Sam says the artist's image of the planet - believed to be 11 times the size of Jupiter - that he spotted online instantly made him think of Gallifrey, despite the fact that precise details of the fictional planet in the long-running BBC series are hard to come by.

"I'm not really sure how big it is," Sam says. "But I know there's an orange glow to it."

For a long time, it was presumed that the planet had been destroyed in a battle between the Time Lords and the Daleks, but in the recently screened feature-length episode Day of the Doctor - released in 3D in cinemas for a single day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the series - it was revealed that Gallifrey still exists.

"It's locked in a single moment of time, in a pocket universe," Sam explains helpfully.

Pushed to explain what that might mean, Sam demurs. "I'm not really into science - I find it boring at school - but I love the show."

After a slow start, Sam's petition began to collect signatures at, well, an astronomical rate after he posted links to a popular Facebook page dedicated to former Doctor David Tennant and a Doctor Who online hub.

As of 5pm Tuesday, he had amassed almost 80,000 supporters.

The IAU has certainly noticed, posting links to the petition on its own website. Whether that means it will support a name change is unclear, but poetry would appear to be on Sam's side.

The existing name of the newly discovered planet is HD 106906 b. Compared to that, you might say Gallifrey has a certain timeless appeal.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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