Wednesday, December 14, 2005
What is it about the name Buffy?
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.