The black hole first captured in an image that drew the world’s attention has been named “Powehi” by Hawaiian Professor Larry Kimura of University of Hawaii at Hilo (UH Hilo).
The name, meaning “embellished dark source of unending creation,” comes from “Kumulipo,” an 18th-century chant to the creation of the Hawaiian universe.
“Po, profound dark source of unending creation, is a concept emphasized and repeated in the Kumulipo, while wehi, or wehiwehi, honored with embellishments, is one of many descriptions of po in the chant,” said UH News.
The first ever image unveiled on Wednesday was achieved by Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an international collaboration composing of a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes.
And two of them – James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) and Submillimeter Array – sit atop the dormant Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.
Astronomers believe Hawaii made a significant contribution to the EHT project, therefore naming the first exposed black hole after the Hawaiian language is justified.
“To have the privilege of giving a Hawaiian name to the very first scientific confirmation of a black hole is very meaningful to me and my Hawaiian lineage that comes from po,” said Kimura.
The name captures precisely what the EHT project is about, which is to take the image of the black hole in the Messier M87 galaxy, over 55 million light-years from Earth, said Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of JCMT.
Meanwhile, music fans have started a petition online to name the black hole after Chris Cornell, the late frontman of the rock band Soundgarden, to commemorate his contribution in music and personality influence on people, according to Loudwire, an online magazine focusing on hard rock and heavy metal music.
“I ask NASA, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration and all the astronomers and scientists involved in this discovery, to name this black hole after Chris Cornell. This would be a ‘surreal’ and amazing way to honor his life and his contribution to music,” said Giuliana Jarrin, creator of the petition on change.org.
As of now, Jarrin has got over 35,000 supporters.