Fans Start Doomed Petition to Name Black Hole After Chris Cornell
Fans launched a petition to name the first black hole to be photographed after the late Chris Cornell, but it arrived too late. The discovery had already been dubbed Powehi, a Hawaiian phrase that means an "embellished dark source of unending creation."
Cornell, who died in 2017, is perhaps most closely associated with the song "Black Hole Sun" from Soundgarden's 1994 album Superunknown. It is "without a doubt Soundgarden's most recognizable and most popular song, and one of the biggest anthems of the '90s," according to petition organizer Guiliana Jarrin.
"For this reason, and the impact Chris Cornell had in the lives of so many and music itself, I ask NASA, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration and all the astronomers and scientists involved in this discovery, to name this black hole after Chris Cornell," she says on the change.org petition. "This would be a 'surreal' and amazing way to honor his life and his contribution to music."
The photograph of Powehi, located nearly 54 million light-years from Earth, was revealed earlier this week. Two of the eight telescopes used to capture the photo, which was actually taken in April 2017, are atop Hawaii's dormant volcano Maunakea. Powehi was named by Larry Kimura of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Astronomers involved with the project asked the Hawaiian language professor to think of an appropriate moniker.
Since black holes had never before been observable, they have typically been assigned names based on who discovered them, the galaxies where they were found or for a nearby constellation. For example, Cygnus X-1 is a first-of-its-kind X-ray producing black hole discovered in the constellation Cygnus. It was later the subject of a song series by Rush.