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How To Name A Galaxy

"How to Name a Galaxy" artwork. Cartoon of Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil looking through a telescope. Space in background.


NGSS Standards:


How do you get a galaxy named for you? In this episode, we learn about the incredible life of Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil, who discovered a new type of galaxy now known as “Burçin’s Galaxy.” Since she was young, Burçin dreamed of studying the stars as an astrophysicist. But she faced many challenges to getting an education, because of what she wanted to wear. Burçin was determined to both be true to her beliefs, and become a scientist. Find out how she did it, and made a huge discovery that changes the way we think about the universe.

Transcript - How to Name A Galaxy
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Photo of Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil

Burçin is one of the most joyful astronomers we've ever spoken with! She told us that she loves to talk and hang out with other people. One of her favorite things about doing science is collaborating, or working with other people. So even though the galaxy is named for Burçin, she didn't make the discovery alone. She was part of a team.

There are some great videos about Burçin. She is a TED Fellow! That's impressive.

Science Friday did a beautiful short documentary about her.

Read more about her discovery in National Geographic.


In the episode, Burçin shares how when her family accepted an award for her in Turkey, it was very emotional for her. Her father, who was not able to finish his schooling past fifth grade, told her that it made him feel like he mattered. Burçin shared these photos from the event.

Burçin's dad and mom are in the center, in the blue suit and hijab, respectively.

Burçin's parents receiving an award in Turkey.

Look at the pride on their faces! Heart eyes emojis!

Burçin's parents holding the award.

We don't often hear about scientists' families, but in many cases, their support has made the scientist's success possible! This was the case for Burçin, who faced many obstacles to her education.

Curious to learn more about Turkey's headscarf ban? Learn more here. Other countries continue to debate hijab bans, especially in France.


Six galaxies are shown. Varying sizes and shapes.

How beautiful are these galaxies!? They're like art - but SCIENCE ART.

Galaxies are all unique, but astronomers like to put them into groups. When galaxies don't fit into these groups, they get new names like Burçin's galaxy did.

Learn more about the common types of galaxies with these links:

Learn about the weirder types of galaxies:

In the episode, we asked you to draw and name your own galaxy. That's right! Just imagine it and draw it. Astronomers will not be mad at you.

Here's some more inspiration:

Now, draw your galaxy, name it and send a photo to us at!


Think we'd leave you without some educational videos? Think again!!!

A great overview with nice images:

Do a deeper dive with Crash Course and astronomer Phil Plait (who is great - hey, that rhymes!):

For younger listeners, try Crash Course's lil sister, SciShow Kids, about the Milky Way Galaxy.

Don't forget to send us your galaxies! Bonus points for drawing yourself discovering them. We would love to see your science art!


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