Traditional Hawaiian creation chant used to name black hole

James Marshall
April 13, 2019

The recently-photographed black hole which made headlines all around the world shall not be nameless.

"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", Kimura said in a news release.

Hawaii's hefty contribution led to the black hole found in the M87 galaxy being given a Hawaiian name: Powehi. University of Hawaii-Hilo Hawaiian language professor Larry Kimura worked with astronomers to come up with the name, which hails from an 18th-century chant about the creation of the universe called the Kumulipo, reports the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. That was the reaction from the deputy director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

"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".

Dempsey said the name succinctly captures the scientific explanation astronomers gave Kimura about their project to capture an image of the massive black hole almost 54 million light-years from Earth in the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy. It's everything that a name for the fist black hole seen by us mere humans should be. It is, by all means of comparison, a landmark in astronomy.

This week was one for the history books: The first-ever image of a black hole was released, a seemingly impossible feat that was achieved thanks to a massive undertaking of scientists across the globe who have been working on the project for years. The image was pieced together from 5,000 trillion bytes of data. Anything that passes its point of no return will be consumed, "never to re-emerge", as the black hole's "unimaginably strong gravity" takes hold.

"This is an incredible accomplishment by the EHT (Event Horizons Telescope) team", Paul Hertz, director of NASA's astrophysics division, said in a news release. This black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, harbors 4.3 million solar masses and lies about 26,000 light-years from Earth.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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