Scientists apart of NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope research team released 21 gamma-ray constellations in celebration of the space observatory’s 10th anniversary since its launch. These unofficial constellations utilized heroes, objects, and landmarks from modern times. Among these include Marvel’s Hulk, the TARDIS from Doctor Who, the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series, and Toho’s own Godzilla firing his atomic ray. For at least a couple of these a theme of radiation might seem apparent, but both the King of the Monsters and the Hulk share this trait more by coincidence and as it’s more a celebration of popular culture and, to be more precise, what appealed to the people at NASA who designated the unofficial constellations.

NASA's Godzilla Gamma-ray ConstellationThe constellation project’s lead, Elizabeth Ferrera, shared some information behind why this came to pass: “By 2015, the number of different sources mapped by Fermi’s LAT had expanded to about 3,000—10 times the number known before the mission. […] For the first time ever, the number of known gamma-ray sources was comparable to the number of bright stars, so we thought a new set of constellations was a great way to illustrate the point.”

In conjunction with this news, Ferrera and astrophysicist Daniel Kocevski also released a web-based interactive map with the gamma-ray sky and all the new constellation locations – Godzilla included – with illustrations by Aurore Simonnet of Sonoma State University. According to Fermi project scientist Julie McEnery, the characters, objects, and even real-life people mapped among the stars were chosen for a reason: “Developing these unofficial constellations was a fun way to highlight a decade of Fermi’s accomplishments. […] One way or another, all of the gamma-ray constellations have a tie-in to Fermi science.”

As an aside, the more commonly-known 88 constellations (Orion, Leo, Virgo, etc.) were conventioned by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which is a separate organization.

A more complete list of all the unofficial constellations from this include:

  • Godzilla
  • Hulk
  • TARDIS (Doctor Who)
  • USS Enterprise (Star Trek)
  • Black Widow Spider
  • San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
  • Albert Einstein
  • Mjolnir (Thor)
  • Radio Telescope
  • Pharos
  • Eiffel Tower
  • The Little Prince
  • Obelisk
  • Saturn V Rocket
  • Fermi Satellite
  • Colosseum
  • Schrodinger’s Cat
  • Castle
  • Mount Fuji
  • Vasa