The baby name Laniakea

Laniakea Supercluster

The Laniakea Supercluster — the galaxy supercluster that contains the Milky Way — was first described in the science journal Nature in September of 2014.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the co-discoverers of the Laniakea Supercluster, cosmographer Daniel Pomarède, sent out the following tweet:

It’s true — at least 35 U.S. baby girls have been named Laniakea (pronounced lah-nee-uh-KAY-uh) since 2014.

The name didn’t emerge in the U.S. baby name data right away (so I probably won’t add it to the baby name timeline), but I don’t think there’s any doubt that it was influenced by the discovery of the Laniakea Supercluster.

  • 2018: 12 baby girls named Laniakea
  • 2017: unlisted
  • 2016: 6 baby girls named Laniakea [debut]
  • 2015: unlisted
  • 2014: unlisted

The Hawaiian word laniakea is comprised of two shorter Hawaiian words: lani, meaning “heaven” or “sky,” and akea, meaning “spacious” or “wide.” Definitions of laniakea include “wide heavens,” “open skies,” “broad horizons,” and — the one preferred by the astronomers — “immeasurable heaven.”

The supercluster’s name was chosen by Hawaiian language professor Nawa’a Napoleon (whose full name, incidentally, is David John Nawa’akauluaokamehameha Napoleon).

What are your thoughts on Laniakea as a baby name?


Image: Adapted from 07-Laniakea (LofE07240) by Andrew Z. Colvin under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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