Canada Just Named A New Planet & Star That Are 320 Light Years Away
Say hello to Nikawiy and Awasis.
There are so many stars and planets in the universe that coming up with new names for all of them could take a very long time. However, new planets named by Canada took their inspiration from Cree and have such a sweet meaning. It's not every day that someone gets to name a planet or a star so it's really special that two people from Canada got that honour.
On December 17, it was announced by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) that a star and its exoplanet, located about 320 light-years away from Earth, are now going to be known as Nikawiy and Awasis, respectively, thanks to Canada.
Canada's mark on the universe is written in the stars because of two space and astronomy enthusiasts who submitted the names as part of a national contest.
Amanda Green, a science teacher in Alberta and Wilfred Buck, an Opaskwayak Cree Nation science facilitator in Manitoba, had the honour of their names for the celestial objects being chosen.
Before, the star and its exoplanet were simply known as HD 136418 and HD 136418b because of where they were listed in the Henry Draper astronomical catalogue.
Now, they are officially named Nikawiy, which is the Cree word for "mother", and Awasis, the Cree word for "child".
Those just might be the sweetest names in the entire universe.
In August, 112 countries, including Canada, organized national contests for people to submit names for an exoplanet and star that were assigned to each country.
According to the IAU, more than 780,000 people participated worldwide.
"It is gratifying that so many people across the globe have helped create a name for a planetary system that is meaningful to their culture and heritage. This effort helps unite us all in our exploration of the Universe," said IAU president-elect Debra Elmegreen in a news release.
In Canada, 522 names were submitted as part of the contest.
Nikawiy is sun-like and Awasis is a massive gas giant.
Astronomers have known about the star for about 100 years but it wasn't until 2009 that the orbiting planet was discovered.
Awasis is considered remarkable because it orbits within the star's habitable zone and it has twice the mass of Jupiter.
And Jupiter is just over 11 times bigger than Earth, so it really is a giant.
According to The Weather Network, all four of the final suggestions from Canada were based on indigenous words from the Cree, Inuktitut, and Ojibwe languages.