Alaska Native names chosen for star and exoplanet light-years away

Published: Dec. 17, 2019 at 9:41 AM AKST
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It's official: HD 17156 b, F-type star, will now be called Nushagak. The name came from Ivory Adajar, a proud Alaska Native.

“I was very thankful, I was very excited, and I was humbled and honored,” Adajar said when asked how she felt about the news, “To be given these names for my home, my people, and my way of life.”

The names Nushagak and Mulchatna, the exoplanet orbiting the star, were announced at the IAU100 NameExoWorlds campaigns press conference in Paris, France Tuesday.

112 sets of exoplanets and host stars millions of miles away were named by 112 countries thousands of miles apart. And out of all of North America, Adajar’s names were chosen.

#IAUnews The names of 112 sets of exoplanets and host stars named in the IAU100 #NameExoWorlds campaigns were announced...

Posted by The International Astronomical Union on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How did Adajar come up with the names?

“It was indigenous peoples' naming that they wanted, so naturally being indigenous Alaska Native from Dillingham I thought of the names of the rivers I grew up fishing and that was really dear to me,” said Adajar, “To honor my people and my heritage and my love for the way of life there.”

Nushagak is a sun-like star in the constellation Cassiopeia, its exoplanet Mulchatna orbits around it. Mulchatna is a Jupiter-sized gas giant with a highly eccentric orbit.

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