Students propose Hawaiian names for exoplanet and star

Group of smiling people
Hua He Inoa program participants with ʻImiloa staff and experts in Hawaiian language and astronomy

A planet-star pair located more than 400 light-years away could become the next celestial objects bearing inoa (names) in ʻōlelo Hawaii or the Hawaiian language. A fruit has a namea program of ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii In the Univertisty of Hawaii in Hilo who provides Hawaiian names for astronomical discoveries, he recently mentored 10 high school interns from Ke Kulaʻo Hawaiian Language Immersion Charter School Nawahiokalani’obou to propose the names of the Neptune-mass gas giant planet and its star as part of the 2022 NameExoWorlds global competition. The proposed names Leimakua and Kawelo were chosen to honor the ancient knowledge and family link between the planet and the star.

“You are big pride! We are incredibly proud of these students who brought their own knowledge and wisdom to this process,” he said. I’m sorry Kimura, CEO of ʻImiloa. “Your contributions from him will deepen our Hawaii relations with astronomical discovery as the story of all our connections with the universe unfolds.

planet with star
Artist’s rendering of HAT-P-26b

The proposed inoa (names) were identified by looking at the metaphorical relationship between the planet (HAT-P-26 b) and the star (HAT-P-26) as a relationship between a father and his son. The exoplanet detected in 2010 with the help of the submillimeter array Y W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, it closely orbits its host star every 4.2 days.

“Whenever I look at the stars, I always get excited and wonder what’s out there,” he said. Search Possible-Elvena, a trainee at Hua He Inoa. “And being able to connect that to my culture is very important because, to me, this is not about one person. It’s about all of us as a community and how we live in Hawaii.”

In words Hawaii, makua means kinship or kinship. The haumāna (students) chose Leimakua for the planet because its close orbit reminded them of a lei around the star, and because a lei can also symbolize the bond between them.

“There is a poetic saying in Hawaiian that lei or necklaces symbolize children and that the makua or father never discards this lei because of this connection between father and son,” Galima-Elvena said.

Student putting post-it on a blackboard
Hua He Inoa interns consider planets to name as part of the competition

For the proposed name of the star, haumāna also looked to the epic story, The History Kawelo’s beauty. In one part of the story, a boy named Kawelo collects water in his ʻumeke (gourd or gourd), which symbolizes knowledge being perpetuated. The word welo also means to float on a stream, or to flutter in the wind, and symbolically represents a linear continuation or legacy.

“When you fill that ʻumeke with water, you are building the life of your community,” he said. egyptian peters, student intern at A Hua He Inoa. “So if we mention the name of the historywho is Kawelo Leimakua, in this ʻumeke of knowledge, we will carry on this knowledge and honor the knowledge of our ancestors.”

The International Astronomical Union, the recognized world authority for naming objects in space, will decide on the winning submissions for this ExoWorld naming contest that they are hosting for spring 2023. If the names are accepted, they will join a shortlist of six astronomical discoveries given ʻōlelo Hawaii names of Hawaiian speakers as part of the comprehensive ʻImiloa program.

students with laptops
Hua He Inoa interns learn how exoplanets are discovered

The students were assisted by the ʻImiloa staff, Kumu (teacher) Larry Kimuraassociate professor at ooh Yarn Ka Haka Ula O Electronic College of Hawaiian Language, representatives from the Maunakea and Ke Kula Observatories or Nawahiokalani’obou.

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