The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has announced that an asteroid has been named for Jay McMahon, a University of Colorado Boulder assistant research professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences.

Asteroid 1998 OS14 is now officially known as (46829) McMahon.

“It was a surprise to me. I had no idea it was coming," said McMahon.

The naming actually applies to more than one asteroid: It represents a binary system of two asteroids orbiting each other. The pair are located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and have a combined diameter of about two miles. Binary asteroids, which make up about 15 percent of asteroids, are a major focus of McMahon’s work.

"Jay has contributed significantly to the field of binary asteroid studies. We have used his results in our work," said Petr Pravec, an astronomer at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. Pravec discovered the asteroid and recommended it be named for McMahon.

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