Xena becomes Eris

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 15, 2006 in Science |

Pluto’s twin has a new name, and sadly Xena fanboys (and fangurls) will be a bit let down:

A Dwarf Planet Gets a Name: Eris

“The dwarf planet formerly known as Xena received a new name today, while Pluto was given a number to reflect the loss of its status as a planet. Dr. Michael E. Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology who discovered the distant ball of ice and rock that he nicknamed Xena, chose the name Eris, after the goddess of discord and strife in Greek mythology. The International Astronomical Union made the name official today.”

…but it’s even worse, Pluto now has been given a number! It’s like the sad dwarf planet is a common criminal:

“Pluto, now that it is no longer a planet, has been assigned the number 134340 in the catalog of minor planets. In 1999, the astronomical union’s Minor Planet Center had proposed assigning Pluto the number 10000 in the same catalog, to give it dual citizenship as both a planet and a member of the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy debris beyond Neptune. Brian Marsden, director of the center, said it was meant as special recognition for Pluto, but the idea was withdrawn after protests from people who saw it as a demotion.”

Keck Telescope image of Eris and its moon Dysnomia:

Xena becomes Eris

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