Some areas of astronomy are way more competitive than others. Variable stars, the sub-field of astronomy I’m most comfortable in, is a very friendly group. There is amiable collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers, and I’ve never met a variable star astronomer who isn’t willing to talk, advise, and generally talk shop in a collegial manner. Not all areas of astronomy are like this.

And I have to wonder what a profiler would make of the various subfields of astronomy based on the nick names and adjectives we use. For instance, consider the habit of minor planet astronomers to name things in honor of childhood heros (There is an asteroid named Mrrogers, and another named Annefrank), and holiday favorites (consider the nick named kuiper belt objects “Easterbunny” and “Santa”). In a field of mostly boring names, the planetary scientists have shown constant creativity and a willingness to laugh while they learn.

I’d like to guess that from the outside, the folks working to explore our solar system with telescopes, probes, robots and rovers would be seen as a happy group of creative people with a good sense of humor rooted in pop-culture.

That said, consider the following paper titles from galactic astronomy:
Strangulation in Galaxy Groups (The paper that triggered this blog post).
NGC 4254: An Act of Harassment Uncovered by the Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA Survey
Disruption of dwarf galaxies in semi-analytic models
The death of FRII radio sources and their connection with radio relics

Strangulation, Harassment, Disruption, Death… These are not happy holiday characters.

There is a lot one can learn from the random adjectives self selected by groups of scientists.