Washington: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has joined the ranks of famous people and places whose names appear on minor planets, as the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named an asteroid in their honor.
Asteroid 271,763 was discovered by Dr. David H. Levy and Wendee Levy from Arizona, and Tom Glinos from Canada.
Dr. Levy wanted to name an asteroid after the Hebrew University since completing a PhD at its English Department in June 2010.
His dissertation explored the relationship between the night sky and the works of Shakespeare and other writers in the early modern period of English literature.
The IAU`s Committee on Small Body Nomenclature is charged with approving names for asteroids (also known as minor planets) and comets.
After rejecting the originally proposed name "Hebrewuniversity" as being too long, the Committee later accepted the informal nickname "Hebrewu" and the asteroid`s name was announced on November 2, 2012.
In his initial outreach to the university, Dr. Levy wrote, "Congratulations on being one of the few universities to be honored 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."
Only a few asteroids have been named for people or places in Israel, including its capital city Jerusalem, its first astronaut Ilan Ramon, and the writer and satirist Ephraim Kishon.
It is estimated that less than 20 universities worldwide have an asteroid named after them.
Located in the asteroid belt that stretches between the orbit of , Hebrewu poses no threat to Planet Earth and is not expected to draw near any time soon.