M87 *? Powehi? There are no rules for naming black holes


The supermassive black hole in the first photo shoot is a beast without a name – at least not official. And what happens is a cosmic confusion.

The team of astronomers who created the picture called it M87 * (the asterisk is quiet). The language professor gave him a name from the Hawaiian term – Powehi – which means "beautiful immaculate dark creation". And the international group responsible for awarding astronomical names? She never named black holes.

The black hole concerned is about 53 million light-years away in the center of the galaxy called the Messier 87, or the M87. On Wednesday, scientists uncovered an image taken with eight radio telescopes when people first saw one of the ultramarine celestial objects that sucked all in the vicinity, even the light.

The International Astronomical Union usually takes care of the names, but only for things in our solar system and the stars outside it. There is no committee dealing with other objects, such as black holes, galaxies or nebulae.

The last time the situation was similar, the former Pluto was somehow degraded to a dwarf planet, which caused public protest, said Williams College astronomer Jay Pasachoff, a member of the Star Board.

Technically speaking, our galaxy – the Roman Road – was not officially appointed by the IAU, said Rick Fienberg, astronomer and spokesman for the American Astronomical Society. He said: "This is just an expression that has come through history."

"Almost every object in the sky has more than one mark," Fienberg said. "The constellations have official names approved by the IAU, and in other cultures they have other names."

When it was a black hole, Hawei's professor Larry Kimura stepped into the foreground before the photo was revealed.

Powehi (pronounced poh-veh-hee) is the Hawaiian name of the black hole, not the official name, explained Jessica Dempsey, who helped to capture the image of Deputy Director of the telescope James Clerk Maxwell at Mauna Kei, the highest mountain in Hawaii. Hawaiian governor David Ige announced on 10 April Powehi Day.

"These are not astronomers who would call it," she said. "This comes from a cultural expert and a language expert. It's him who comes to the table and gives us that gift. It is a gift of Hawaiian culture and history, not vice versa. «

Asked about Kimura's idea, IAU board member Pasachoff said: "This is the first thing I've heard of this."

Eric Mamajek, chairman of the IAU Working Group on Star Names, called it a "wonderful, thought-out name." However, Mamajek said that his committee might not be right to give a black hole a name. Only stars.

"It's exactly Pluto's situation," Pasachoff said.

In 2006, the IAU's astronomers discussed the designation of a large object in our solar system, eventually called Eris. This did not apply to the planet, so it was not the task of a planetary committee. Some experts, however, emphasized that it was larger than Pluto, which added some confusion.

The conference decided to redistribute planets, shoot Pluto from a club of regular planets and join a newly established dwarf planet with Eris, Pasachoff said.

The IAU on the same day that a black hole image had been revealed, asked the public to select one of the three names for an object named by the astronomer 2007 OR10. It is an icy planetesimal that circles the sun, but is 100 times farther away from our star than the Earth.

The three suggested names are Gonggong, a Chinese water god with red hair and a snake's tail; Holle, European winter goddess of fertility; and the Virgin, the Nordic deity and the Odin brother.

The IAU is trying to incorporate more languages ​​and cultures into the game's name, said Pasachoff and Fienberg. Soon, the IAU will ask the public to help designate 100 planets outside our solar system.

When astronomers look further into the cosmos, Pasachoff said: "We will need more names."


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