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Japan names planet-star duo after Okinawan, Ainu cultures


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The international authority responsible for naming celestial objects announced its shortlist for 100 pairs of exoplanets and stars, including two names from Japan: Chura and Kamui.

“Chura” means beautiful in the Okinawan language, while “Kamui” means god in the language of the indigenous Ainu people.

The Paris-based International Astronomical Union held the naming campaign as part of its centennial celebration.

The results were announced Dec. 17.

More than 100 countries and regions participated in the initiative, with each asked to name an exoplanet and host star.

Japan was assigned the star “HD145457,” which is 410 light-years from Earth toward the Corona Borealis (Northern Crown), and a nearby exoplanet. The giant gas body, roughly the size of Jupiter, was discovered by astronomers using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii and others in 2010.

Japan proposed Chura and Kamui for the exoplanet and star, respectively.

The names were selected by a national committee that sought input from the public.

Of about 700 entries, the panel chose names that convey respect for and awe of nature.

The names will be universally used.

The IAU held a similar campaign to name exoplanets in 2015, with Japan naming several of them, including “Amateru.”

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to physicists who study exoplanets.

More than 4,000 exoplanets have been discovered to date, and some are believed to be capable of supporting life.

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