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Chris Cornell fans ask NASA to name first black hole photographed after late ‘Black Hole Sun’ singer

Andrew Blake The Washington TimesMay 14, 2019

Fans of late “Black Hole Sun” singer Chris Cornell are campaigning to memorialize the former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman by naming for him the first black hole ever to be photographed.

An online petition created on Change.org, “Name the black hole after Chris Cornell,” neared its goal of 35,000 signatures Saturday, three days since being launched after scientists broke ground by imaging a celestial phenomena millions of light-years from Earth.

“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,” wrote Giuliana Jarrin, a fan from Ecuador who created the petition. “This would be a ‘surreal’ and amazing way to honor his life and his contribution to music,” she wrote.

Cornell co-founded Soundgarden in Seattle in 1984, and within years the band broke beyond the Pacific Northwest with the budding grunge rock genre it ushered into the mainstream alongside local contemporaries including Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.

“Black Hole Sun” was included on Soundgarden’s fourth studio album, Superunknown, and was released as a single in May 1994. It subsequently spent seven weeks on top the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks prior to winning the 1995 Grammy Award in the category of Best Hard Rock Performance, beating out songs by both Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, among others.

Scientists in Hawaii, where two of the telescopes used to photograph the black hole are positioned, have dubbed it “Pōwehi,” or Hawaiian for “embellished dark source of unending creation.” It is located at roughly 55 million light-years away from Earth at the center of Messier 87 galaxy and estimated to be billions of times more massive than the sun.

“Pōwehi as a name is so powerful because it provides real truths about the image of the black hole that we see,” said Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Maunakea, Hawaii.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued a proclamation declaring April 10 “Pōwehi Day” for the discovery, but formally adopting any name beyond the state would require input from the International Astronomical Union, a worldwide consortium of more than 200 scientists and various institutions, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Cornell died from suicide in 2017 at the age of 52. He received more than a dozen other Grammy nominations prior to his passing, including for music released as a solo artist and with both Soundgarden and Audioslave, a supergroup he formed in 2001 with members of Rage Against the Machine after both bands briefly dissolved.

He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance in February for the song “When Bad Does Good.”

Vicky Cornell, the singer’s wife, endorse the Change.org petition from her Facebook page Friday.

“This is truly an incredible effort from the fans. Chris would be honored,” she wrote.

The petition was digitally signed more than 30,500 times of Saturday afternoon.

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