Norway gives Sami names to distant star and planet

Norwegians have named a small dwarf star and the planet orbiting it after the Sami words for 'star' and 'heaven', as part of the centenary of the 100th anniversary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Norway gives Sami names to distant star and planet
The new planet is about the same size as Jupiter. Photo: Sven Wedemeyer(UIO)/ NASA.
From this Tuesday, the star HD 68988, which is 200 light years from earth, will be officially named Násti (star), while the planet HD 68988 will be called Albmi (heaven). 
“It's super exciting to hear, and also really nice that it's going to be a Sami name,” said Emma Stefanussen, the high school student who proposed the name, in a press release issued by  Norway's Andøya Space Center. 
Stefanussen, who is from Andøya, the northernmost island of the Lofoten archipelago, had the names suggested by an ethnnic Sami friend. 
Norway was one of the 116 country's allowed to name new planets and stars in honour of the 100th anniversary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the body responsible for naming newly discovered stars and planets. 
Ørjan Vøllestad at the Andøya Space Center said that the IAU100 NameExoWorlds competition aimed to increase awareness of new planets around the universe. 
“It might be a little crazy for people to think that there are so many other solar systems out there. It may seem quite remote. So this is a way to make people aware,” Ørjan Vøllestad at the Andøya Space Center told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK
Vøllestad said he liked the fact that the Sami name was chose out of the 824 proposals.  
“I personally find it very exciting that they are Sami. I thought to myself that 'yes! this is a good step in the right direction'.” 
NameExoWorlds Project Manager, Eduardo Monfardini Penteado said in a press release that the scheme aimed to engage the public. 
“The IAU100 NameExoWorlds campaign provided the public with the exciting opportunity to help with the naming of over 100 new worlds and their stars, and to help the IAU establish a thoughtful naming theme for naming future discoveries in those systems,” he said in a press release
In 2019, 112 countries organised national campaigns which engaged 780,000 people worldwide. 

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Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.