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  6.  | Alaskan a Finalist in National Competition to Name Star, Exoplanet

Alaskan a Finalist in National Competition to Name Star, Exoplanet

Nov 14, 2019 | Education, News, Science

Size comparison of the star HD 17156 (left) and our solar system’s sun (hypothetical visualization).


DILLINGHAM—Ivory Adajar of Dillingham was recently named a finalist in a national competition by The International Astronomical Union (IAU) to name an intergalactic star and exo-planet.

Adajar has proposed the names Nushagak and Mulchatna after the famed Bristol Bay salmon rivers. Her proposal was the only one to advance from Alaska.

The competition will name a star designated for the United States, which is currently identified as HD 17156, and an exo-planet. HD 17156 is a sun-like star in the constellation Cassiopeia with an exo-planet.

Size comparison of the exo-planet HD 17156 (left) and Jupiter (hypothetical visualization).


The IAU is the international astronomical organization that brings together more than 13,500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries and serves as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies. The IAU advanced ten finalists from over 900 proposed names from around the United States to be voted on by the public The IAU’s selection committee was a group of forty amateur and professional astronomers, teachers, and students. The top three selected by US voters will be submitted by November 15 to the IAU100 NameExoworlds Steering Committee for the final choice. The final result will be announced by the IAU the week of December 16 – 21, 2019.

Ivory Adajar, a member of Curyung Tribal Council in Bristol Bay, Alaska who proposed the name for the star and exo-planet, released the following statement:

“I chose the names Nushagak for a star and Mulchatna for an exo-planet because they would be named after Earth’s greatest wild salmon river ecosystems that resembles the nature of the exo-planet’s orbit. Mulchatna River connects to the famous Nushagak River, and these rich and historical salmon rivers have contributed greatly to our Alaskan outdoors natural culture. Our salmon fisheries are known for their eccentric paths out to the ocean and back to freshwater. We might not have this natural habitat and rich fisheries in the future, but we can have the star and eco-planet in honor of Alaska’s rich salmon culture and heritage. Quyana (Thank You).”

Learn more about HD 17156 and its orbiting exo-planet here.

Hypothetical visualization of HD 17156 b’s orbit around HD 17156. It takes approximately 21.2 days for the exo-planet to revolve around the star, despite the former being slightly larger than Jupiter and the latter being larger than our Sun.


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