Astronomical Eponyms

This list is an attempt to satisfy a long-standing urge to put together a list of astronomical eponyms. I did a core dump of everything I could think of, and Tom Matheson, who wandered into my office at some point, helped out. After I posted this on the Facebook Astronomers' page, many, many people pitched in, and the list was greatly augmented. At the risk of offending all of those who contributed, some of the more prolific contributions came from Howard Bond, Nick Suntzeff, Abi Saha, Michael Strauss, Bryan Gaensler, and Lori Allen.

I welcome contributions to this list, especially if you have better explanatory links than what I have below. I've made a few rules as to what to accept:

  1. This is about astronomy and astrophysics. These fields have tremendous overlap with physics, mathematics, and optics, so drawing a sharp line as to where to stop is going to be fuzzy, arbitrary, and probably inconsistent. My intent is to include things that are largely of interest in the domain of astrophysics, but less so to other disciplines. This might be narrow, but I didn't want to random walk into including all of physics and mathematics. This, of course, is likely to result in outcomes that will be less satisfying to others, but there you have it.
  2. I wanted to keep the list tied directly to important research contributions that are honored by direct use of the authors' names. This avoids putting asteroids, craters, facilities, etc. named after astronomers on the list, which are often handed out as honors, but do not directly reference a specific scientific work. The Hubble Space Telescope is not on the list, for example. Comet names are an interesting case. Since they are direcly and formally named after the discoverer, I really don't consider them to be proper eponyms that emerged from common usage. The obvious exception is Halley's Comet, which is on the list. This was never a formal designation, but arose from usage: "Hey, there's that comet that Halley was going on about." Likewise, I wanted to sidestep observatories and programs named after benefactors. Again, you might prefer different choices (I did my PhD at Lick, for example, but do not have the "Lick indices" on the list, even though they were created by my advisor and close friend, Sandra Faber).
  3. One subtlety concerns the use of catalogues. I did not want to simply reference someone who made a catalogue, and I certainly didn't want to overwhelm the list with actual catalogued objects, like Abell 1656, Wolf 359, Arp 220, and so on. But at the same time, many catalogues define a novel class of objects that becomes important in its own right, and which is refereed to by an unambiguous eponym. So, while I would not list Abell 1656, people do refer generically to "Abell Clusters," or "Arp objects," as shorthand for a particular type of galaxy cluster or peculiar galaxy that is understood to those in the conversation.
  4. In many cases, there is more than one form of an eponym. Is it the "Titus-Bode law," or just "Bode's law?" I favored the latter, as this is how I learned it, and is usually how I hear it being used. I will entertain corrections to this, and at some point may list alternatives. I have generally not listed closely related eponyms. I have, say "Lyman series," but not Lyman limit, continuum, and so on. At the same time, there are often important components to this. "Roche lobe" and "Roche limit" come from the same concept, but they are very different beasts, so both are on the list. One thing I haven't figured out are "second generation" eponyms. "Wolf-Rayet stars" is an obvious eponym, but what about "Wolf-Rayet galaxy?" This latter designation is not about a class of systems described by Wolf or Rayet, but instead is about galaxies full of WR stars.
  5. I have checked all suggestions not known to me on Google. This quickly shows if the nominal eponym is used in research work, and often identifies a more preferred form of the particular eponym.
  6. I reserve the right to be arbitrary and inconsistent with your input, but you are always welcome to twist my arm!

Tod R. Lauer (NOAO)

  1. Abell clusters
  2. Abell planetary nebula
  3. Abell radius
  4. Airy disk
  5. Alcock-Paczynski effect
  6. Alfven radius
  7. Alfven wave
  8. Applegate Effect
  9. Arakelian galaxies
  10. Argelander step method
  11. Arnett's law
  12. Arp object
  13. Baade-Wesselink method
  14. Baade's window
  15. Babcock model
  16. Babcock's star
  17. Bahcall-Wolf cusp
  18. Bailey types
  19. Baily's beads
  20. Baker-Nunn camera
  21. Balbus-Hawley instability
  22. Baldwin effect
  23. Baldwin-Phillips-Terlevich diagram
  24. Balmer series
  25. Band function
  26. Bardeen-Petterson Effect
  27. Barnard's star
  28. Barr effect
  29. Bautz-Morgan type
  30. Becklin-Neugebauer object
  31. Belinsky-Khalatnikov-Lifshitz singularity
  32. Besselian years
  33. Bessell filters
  34. Bethe (unit)
  35. Birkeland current
  36. Blandford-Payne process
  37. Blandford-Znajek process
  38. Blazhko effect
  39. Bode's law
  40. Bok globule
  41. Bond albedo
  42. Bond's star
  43. Bondi accretion
  44. Bond-Neff effect
  45. Bonnor-Ebert mass
  46. Bottlinger diagram
  47. Boyajian's Star
  48. Bowen fluorescence
  49. Brackett series
  50. Branch-normal SN
  51. Brownlee particles
  52. Burstein-Heiles extinctions
  53. Butcher-Oemler effect
  54. Calzetti extinction law
  55. Campbell's hydrogen envelope star
  56. Carrington rotation
  57. Cardelli extinction law
  58. Carter constant
  59. Cassegrain telescope
  60. Cassini division
  61. Chandrasekhar limit
  62. Chandrasekhar-Friedman-Schutz instability
  63. Chabrier initial mass function
  64. Compton scattering
  65. Copernican principle
  66. Corbet diagram
  67. Curtis-Shapley debate
  68. Dall-Kirkham telescopes
  69. Darwin instability
  70. Dawes' limit
  71. de Sitter universe
  72. de Vaucouleurs profile
  73. Dicke switch
  74. Dobsonian telescope
  75. Doppler shift
  76. Drake equation
  77. Dressler's morphology-density relation
  78. Duvall's law
  79. Dyson sphere
  80. Eddington bias
  81. Eddington luminosity
  82. Eddington-Barbier relation
  83. Eggen, Lynden-Bell, Sandage model
  84. Eggen moving groups
  85. Einasto profile
  86. Einstein A and B coefficients
  87. Einstein radius
  88. Einstein ring
  89. Ellerman bomb
  90. Encke division
  91. Evershed effect
  92. Faber-Jackson relationship
  93. Fabry-Perot interferometer
  94. Fall-Jones effect
  95. Fanaroff-Riley type
  96. Faraday rotation
  97. Fellgett's advantage
  98. Fermi paradox
  99. Fish's law
  100. Fizeau interferometer
  101. Fowler sampling
  102. Fraunhofer lines
  103. Freeman's law
  104. Fresnel radius
  105. Fried parameter
  106. Friedmann equations
  107. Galilean satellites
  108. Gatley's rule
  109. Goldreich-Julian density
  110. Goldreich-Schubert instability
  111. Gomez's hamburger
  112. Gould belt
  113. Greenstein effect
  114. Greenwood frequency
  115. Gregorian focus
  116. Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin Limit
  117. Groth strip
  118. Grotrian diagram
  119. Gunn filters
  120. Gunn-Peterson effect
  121. Habing flux
  122. Hale-Nicholson law
  123. Halley's comet
  124. Hamada-Salpeter relation
  125. Hamaker-Bregman-Sault measurement equation
  126. Hanle effect
  127. Hanny's voorwerp
  128. Hapke parameters
  129. Harrison-Zel'dovich spectrum
  130. Hartmann test
  131. Hawking radiation
  132. Hayashi limit
  133. Hayashi track
  134. Henyey-Greenstein phase formula
  135. Herbig Ae/Be stars
  136. Herbig-Haro object
  137. Hernquist profile
  138. Herzberg bands
  139. Hertzsprung gap
  140. Hertzsprung-Russell diagram
  141. Hess diagram
  142. Hickson compact group
  143. Hill sphere
  144. Hiltner-Hall effect
  145. Hind's variable nebula
  146. Hirayama family
  147. Hoag's object
  148. Holmberg radius
  149. Hubble constant
  150. Hubble diagram
  151. Hubble expansion
  152. Hubble's law
  153. Hubble radius
  154. Hubble-Sandage variable
  155. Hubble sequence
  156. Hubble time
  157. Hubble's variable nebula
  158. Huchra's lens
  159. Humphreys-Davidson limit
  160. Jaffe profile
  161. Jansky (unit)
  162. Jeans length
  163. Jeans mass
  164. Joy's law
  165. Johnson photometry
  166. Julian day
  167. Kaiser effect
  168. Kapteyn's star
  169. Keeler gap
  170. Kerr metric
  171. Kelvin-Helmholtz time
  172. Kepler's equation
  173. Kepler's laws
  174. Kepler's supernova
  175. King model
  176. Kirchhoff's laws
  177. Kirkwood gap
  178. Kleinmann-Low nebula
  179. Kormendy relation
  180. Kozai mechanism
  181. Kramers' opacity
  182. Kron-Cousins filters
  183. Kroupa initial mass function
  184. Kuiper belt
  185. Kurucz models
  186. Lagrange points
  187. Lallemand Camera
  188. Lambertian reflectance
  189. Landolt standard
  190. Lane-Emden equation
  191. Laplace resonance
  192. Larson-Tinsley effect
  193. Lauer bias
  194. Lauer-Postman bulk flow
  195. Leavitt's law
  196. Ledoux constant
  197. Ledoux criterion
  198. Lense-Thirring precession
  199. Limber's equation
  200. Lindblad resonance
  201. Lira law
  202. Littrow spectrograph
  203. Lockman hole
  204. Lockman layer
  205. Lorimer burst
  206. Luptitudes
  207. Lutz-Kelker bias
  208. Love number
  209. Lyman series
  210. Lyman-Werner band
  211. Lyot stop
  212. Madau plot
  213. Magellanic clouds
  214. Magorrian relation
  215. Maksutov telescope
  216. Malmquist bias
  217. Markarian object
  218. Mattig formula
  219. Maunder butterfly diagram
  220. Maunder minimum
  221. Mewe-Kaastra-Liedahl (Mekal) plasma
  222. Messier object
  223. Michelson interferometer
  224. Milne-Eddington model
  225. Minkowski's object
  226. Moffat function
  227. Morgan-Keenan-Kellman stellar classification system
  228. Moreton wave
  229. Mueller matrix
  230. Nasmyth focus
  231. Navarro-Frenk-White profile
  232. Newtonian telescope
  233. Newtons' constant
  234. O'Connell effect
  235. Oke spectrophotometric standards
  236. Olbers' paradox
  237. Oort cloud
  238. Oort's constants
  239. Oosterhoff effect
  240. Ostriker-Vishniac effect
  241. Paczynski's core mass - luminosity relation
  242. Palomar-Green QSO
  243. Parker instability
  244. Parker spiral
  245. Paschen series
  246. Petrosian radius
  247. Pfund series
  248. Phillip's relation
  249. Planck era
  250. Plaskett's star
  251. Platt particles
  252. Plummer model
  253. Pogson magnitude
  254. Poynting-Robertson drag
  255. Press-Schechter formalism
  256. Przybylski's star
  257. Racine wedge
  258. Rayleigh criterion
  259. Raymond-Smith spectrum
  260. Razin effect
  261. Rees-Sciama effect
  262. Reynolds layer
  263. Richardson-Lucy deconvolution
  264. Ritchey-Chretien telescope
  265. Robertson-Walker metric
  266. Roche limit
  267. Roche lobe
  268. Romano's star
  269. Ronchi grating
  270. Rood-Sastry type
  271. Rosseland opacity
  272. Rossiter-McLaughlin effect
  273. Routly-Spitzer effect
  274. Rowland circle
  275. Rubin-Ford effect
  276. Sachs-Wolfe effect
  277. Safronov number
  278. Saha equation
  279. Sakurai's object
  280. Salpeter initial mass function
  281. Salpeter time
  282. Sandage-Loeb test
  283. Sanduleak's star
  284. Scalo initial mass function
  285. Schechter function
  286. Schlegel-Finkbeiner-Davis extinctions
  287. Schmidt-Kennicutt law
  288. Schmidt telescope
  289. Schönberg-Chandrasekhar limit
  290. Schwarzschild criterion
  291. Schwarzschild radius
  292. Schwarzschild's method
  293. Scott effect
  294. Sedov-Taylor blast wave
  295. Searle-Zinn model
  296. Serkowski law
  297. Sersic law
  298. Seyfert galaxy
  299. Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor
  300. Shakura Sunyaev disk
  301. Shane-Wirtanen counts
  302. Shapiro delay
  303. Shapley constellation
  304. Shapley-Sawyer concentration class
  305. Shapley supercluster
  306. Shklovskii effect
  307. Silk damping
  308. Sobolev approximation
  309. Solomon process
  310. Soltan argument
  311. Spitzer conductivity
  312. Stark effect
  313. Stephan's quintet
  314. Stokes parameters
  315. Strehl ratio
  316. Strömgren photometric system
  317. Strömgren sphere
  318. Struve-Sahade effect
  319. Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect
  320. Swan band
  321. Swings effect
  322. Szebehely radius
  323. Thackeray globules
  324. Thompson scattering
  325. Thorne-Zytkow object
  326. Toomre's Q parameter
  327. Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff limit
  328. Tolman surface brightness test
  329. Trumpler classification
  330. Tully-Fisher relation
  331. Tycho's supernova
  332. van Allen belt
  333. van Maanen's star
  334. van Vleck correction
  335. Velikhov-Chandrasekhar instability
  336. Vishniac instability
  337. Voigt profile
  338. Walraven Photometry
  339. Warner's relation
  340. Wilson effect
  341. Wilson-Bappu effect
  342. Wing-Ford band
  343. Winston cone
  344. Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte galaxy
  345. Wolf number
  346. Wolf-Rayet stars
  347. Wood's filters
  348. Yarkovsky effect
  349. Yarkovsky-O'Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack effect
  350. Yoshinaga filters
  351. Zanstra temperature
  352. Zeeman effect
  353. Zel'dovich approximation
  354. Zel'dovich pancake


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