Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Name a galaxy and win a book

Colliding galaxies
Sometimes scientists are really good at giving names to things. 'Photon' springs to mind. What a great name, even if it did come from a chemist. Even 'quark' has a certain quirky charm (in-joke for the particle physicists there) - although Murray Gell-Mann intended the word to be pronounced 'quork' which, oddly, sounds significantly more like a meat substitute than quark.

However, science types have to be having a good day to come up with something so effective. So I've a challenge for you. But first a bit of background. The main reason we know that the universe is expanding is that almost all galaxies are redshifted. The light from them is lower energy than expected, shifted into the red, because they are moving away from us. But a few galaxies are blueshifted. They are close enough that the gravitational attraction between them and our galaxy is more powerful than the expansion, so they are heading in our direction.

Our nearest big neighbour, the galaxy in the constellation Andromeda, is on collision course. In about 5 billion years it will plough into the Milky Way, forming a single, mega galaxy. In case you are worried about possible effects on the Earth, don't be. a) You won't be around. b) Earth will have already been crisped by an expanding, reddening Sun.

But the point here is that this new, merged galaxy formed from Andromeda and the Milky Way needs a name. The suggestion I have seen, Milkomeda, is, frankly, terrible. It sounds like a disease. And the obvious alternative, Androway sounds like a property development company. We need something better. So here's where you come in. I am asking for suggestions for a better name for the merged galaxy. Provided I get suggestions from at least 10 people I will offer the best (according to me) a free copy of one of the following books:
Just add your suggestions as comments below. I will announce the winner in a blog post on 16 August and ask them to email details to me to send their chosen book. So get your thinking caps on, and encourage friends and relations to take part as I need those 10 entries...

Image from NASA


  1. Duchess (as in, posh mashed potatoes)

  2. • Mandromeda
    • Andromedary
    • The even milkier way
    • Cream
    • Creameda
    • Andanotherdromeda
    • Andromedus
    • Androgeny
    • Galaxius
    • The Whole Selection Box
    • Twirl
    • Chocolate Heaven
    • BigBar
    • Bar 6 (remember them?)
    • Collidia
    • Androx
    • Endgamea
    • Creamedus

  3. Hodmandod

    Because it looks like a snail.

    (my totally unbiassed answer)

  4. Just throwing in one I've received from Louisa Radice via LinkedIn: "How about Perseus?"

  5. CTD. Standing for Crash Test Dummy. Look at that shape, it's a CTD head in profile, right? Tell me it's not just me who sees that.

  6. Just a teensy pointer. That is not a photograph of the Milky Way crashing into Andromeda. It hasn't happened yet - that's two other galaxies colliding. So don't read too much into the photo.

  7. Well, using the Latin form of Milky Way - Via Lactea - perhaps one of the following:


    or the Greek form - Galactea


    Androlaxy sounds more like a remedy for constipation.

  8. You make a good case for calling it "George" in your next blog up the line so in the interests of equality I suggest "Mildred".

    Or the two together.....

  9. THE RESULTS (roll on the drums):

    Technically we only got 9 people entering, but I'm feeling generous. I rather liked Gordon's Malandry, but it sounded too much like a Victorian novel. Henry would win the 'most entries' award, but the theme was too chocolate oriented. In the end, I have to choose...

    ... Mildred, because I want to see po-faced astronomers referring to the Mildred Galaxy and trying to keep a straight face.

    If Ian (Laurasdad) would like a copy, just drop me an email at