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

Return to: [ Tod Lauer's Homepage ] Last Update on November 6, 2012