Alaska Native a finalist in national competition to name star, exoplanet

Pictured: Transiting exoplanet HD 17156 b, 17 November 2009.(Photo: Tyrogthekreeper at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0])

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Finalist is Ivory Adajar, a member of Curyung Tribal Council in Bristol Bay, Alaska

News Release

International Astronomical Union

An Alaskan, Ivory Adajar of Dillingham, Alaska was recently named a finalist in a national competition by The International Astronomical Union (IAU) to name an intergalactic star and exoplanet. 

Voting to advance the proposal is open to the public until November 14, 2019.

Adajar has proposed the names Nushagak and Mulchatna after the famed Bristol Bay salmon rivers. Her proposal was the only one to advance from Alaska.

The competition will name a star designated for the United States, which is currently identified as HD 17156, and an exoplanet. HD 17156 is a sun-like star in the constellation Cassiopeia with an exoplanet.

The International Astronomical Union is the international astronomical organization that brings together more than 13,500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries, and serves as the internationally-recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies. The International Astronomical Union advanced ten finalists from over 900 proposed names from around the United States to be voted on by the public The International Astronomical Union’s selection committee was a group of 40 amateur and professional astronomers, teachers, and students. Public voting on the list of 10 semi-finalists will be open until November 14, 2019. The top three selected by US voters will be submitted by November 15 to the IAU100 NameExoworlds Steering Committee for the final choice. The final result will be announced by the International Astronomical Union the week of December 16–21, 2019.

Ivory Adajar, a member of Curyung Tribal Council in Bristol Bay, Alaska who proposed the name for the star and exoplanet, released the following statement:

“I chose the names Nushagak for a star and Mulchatna for an exoplanet because they would be named after Earth’s greatest wild salmon river ecosystems that resembles the nature of the exoplanet’s orbit. Mulchatna River connects to the famous Nushagak River, and these rich and historical salmon rivers have contributed greatly to our Alaskan outdoors natural culture. Our salmon fisheries are known for their eccentric paths out to the ocean and back to freshwater. We might not have this natural habitat and rich fisheries in the future, but we can have the star and exoplanet in honor of Alaska’s rich salmon culture and heritage. Quyana (Thank You).”

More information can be found at: and you can vote for Adajar’s proposal at:


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