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Wednesday, December 14, 2005


What is it about the name Buffy?

Image Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle.
That Tom, Stuart, the Bad Astronomer and ABC Science News all blog her near simultaneously. Buffy, of vampire slayer fame, is the temporary name given to a 500-1000 km lump of ice out at the outer edge of the Kuiper belt, following a fine old (well one year old) tradition that began with Xena and Gabrielle. Like most objects in the Kuiper belt, Buffy (otherwise known as 2004 XR 190) is at a large angle (47°) to the orbital plane of the planets as they go around the Sun. Unlike most objects in the Kuiper belt, Buffy has an almost perfect circular orbit. This has caused a lot of puzzlement and head scratching, because current theories can't explain how Buffy's orbit is so circular. For full details and links to a 3D orbital simulation see the Canada-France Ecliptic Plane Survey webpage on Buffy.

To be fair, Tom got the story first I think. I'm just being deeply unoriginal again!
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