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Greek Astronomers Take On Xena The Warrior Princess In Planet Name Row

2003 UB-313 or "Xena". Desktop image available 1024x768
by Staff Writers
Athens (AFP) Sept 1, 2006
Greek astronomers have appealed to the world's top astronomical body to maintain a tradition of naming planets after Greek mythological figures, the Athens Observatory said on Friday.

The Greeks were riled when a new planet-sized object discovered in 2003 was unofficially called 'Xena' in hommage to the main character of the American fantasy television series "Xena: Warrior Princess".

"This provisional name ... is at the origin of this initiative taken by the observatory," the institute's astronomy department director Christos Goudis said.

Observatory chairman Christos Zerefos wrote a letter to the International Astronomical Union on August 20 proposing the names of a number of Greek mythological figures to replace 'Xena', Goudis said.

"The last five years have seen a new interpretation of the solar system and we have to avoid giving offhand names to newly-discovered stars," Goudis told AFP.

"Astronomy has deep roots ... we must preserve this historic tradition," he said.

A team led by US astronomer Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology discovered 'Xena', a frozen object some 15 billion kilometres (nine billion miles) from Earth, in 2003.

A fan of the popular television series, Brown has nine years to think of a permanent name for the orb, originally designated as 2003 UB313.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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