There's a new planet called Awasis and it was named by a Canadian
Canadians have made their mark on a faraway alien planet and its sun.
Until this week, HD 136418 was the painfully unremarkable name for a star residing approximately 320 lightyears away from earth, in the constellation Bootes.
The giant gas planet orbiting it — which is about twice the mass of Jupiter and so over 600 times the mass of Earth — was unfortunately, though aptly, referred to by scientists as HD 136418b when it was discovered a decade ago.
Dear Canada:— Mika McKinnon (@mikamckinnon) August 7, 2019
We get to name a star (HD 136418) & its exoplanet (HD 136418 b)!@csa_asc is gathering names, due 20 Sept. Details: https://t.co/0McGo1HepZ
First Nations & Inuit peoples are explicitly encouraged to submit names drawn from their cultural heritages.#CanSci
Fortunately for the pair, the International Astronomical Union decided earlier this year to assign real names to them and 111 other star-planet duos. The solar bodies were divided up between various countries, and naming campaigns were launched.
The winning monikers from Canada were submitted by Alberta science teacher Amanda Green and "Star Guy" Wilfred Buck of Manitoba. HD 136418 and HD 136418b will now go by Nikawiy and Awasis, which are the Cree words for mother and child.
The IAU has approved the Canadian proposal to name the star HD 136418 Nikawiy and its exoplanet Awasis!— UAlberta Observatory (@UofAObservatory) December 17, 2019
Nikawiy and Awasis are mother and child (respectively) in the Cree language.#NameExoWorlds @IAU_Outreach @AstroCanada pic.twitter.com/iqz3ZCldcY
Green is a regular public speaker on space-related topics, as well as an advocate for women in STEM. Buck, from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, works at the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, bringing a First Nations perspective to astronomy and other sciences.
The star-planet combination's new names mark a Canadian contribution to the galaxy that is both adorably sweet given the familial definitions of the monikers, as well as extremely culturally meaningful.
Since Awasis is in Nikawiy's habitable zone, maybe we can hope to escape to our new exoplanet after we kill Earth.
Kornmesser/Nick Risinger at ESO/M
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