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NASA drops insensitive nicknames for cosmic objects



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NASA will no longer use the old nickname for the nebula NGC 2392.

NASA / Andrew Fruchter (STScI)

Terms we use to describe the cosmos are not immune to testing at a time when many people are working to identify and remove racist language. Just as technical terms are reevaluatedNASA is also considering how we are talking about space.

“While the scientific community is working to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all areas of the field, it has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive but can also be actively harmful,” the space agency said in a statement on Wednesday. “NASA is exploring the use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, justice, and inclusion.”

Nicknames are particularly popular when it comes to galaxies and nebulae. Check out Arp 142, consisting of NGC 2336 and NGC 2937. These names might not ring the bell for most people, but you would definitely remember The Penguin and the Egg galaxies because they look like an adorable penguin guarding an egg.

NASA gave two examples of cosmic objects for which nicknames are no longer used. The planetary nebula NGC 2392 was known as the “Eskimo Nebula”. “‘Eskimo’ is widely regarded as a colonial term with a racist history imposed on the indigenous people of the Arctic regions,” said NASA.

NASA has already added an image publication from 2008 that shows NGC 2392 and explains the decision to withdraw the nickname.

The agency will also use just the official names of NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 to refer to a pair of spiral galaxies known as the “Siamese Twin Galaxy”.

This review of the cosmic names continues.

“Our goal is to ensure that all names are consistent with our values ​​of diversity and inclusion, and we will work proactively with the scientific community to ensure this. Science is for everyone, and every facet of our work must reflect that value. ” said Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy administrator of NASA’s Directorate for Science Missions.


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