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New Pluto moon named Vulcan thanks to William Shatner

William Shatner is seen on the video screen during the Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 24  in Hollywood, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

After more than 450,000 votes, a contest to name Pluto's two newly-discovered moons has settled on two winners.

The name "Vulcan" was a runaway winner with 174,000 votes. The second most popular name was "Cerberus" with 99,400 votes.

Vulcan was suggested by William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek series.

Shatner tweeted:

On the TV show, Vulcan was the name of the planet that hosted a humanoid species of the same name -- Spock was Vulcan. In Roman mythology, Vulcan was the god of fire and volcanoes. Pluto's moons are usually named after mythological gods of the underworld.

Cerberus is the name of the multi-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades, classicists and Harry Potter fans will recall. Shatner's other suggestion, Romulus -- the planet that hosted another alien species on Star Trek -- didn't make the list because in mythology Romulus has nothing to do with the underworld (he was one of the twin brothers who founded Rome). 

SETI, which set up the competition, says final approval for the two names could take up to two months.

Kate Allen is the Toronto Star’s global science and technology reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @katecallen






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My world just imploded.

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