Dispatches from Alex Poindexter

Uber News from Across the World
February 7, 2005

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Tuesday, February 7, 2006

By Alex Poindexter - Uber Media Writer


February 7, 2006 | Houston, Texas (UMR) - The big news last summer was that astronomers who happened to be starry-eyed fans of Xena: Warrior Princess discovered the planetary object, 2003 UB313. Naturally, they named it after their leather-clad heroine. Then last fall, these same astronomers detected Xena's sidekick, the "little dim satellite" which they could call no other than Gabrielle. The pair live beyond Pluto in a band known as the Kuiper Belt, a region that is home to comets, asteroids and other space celebrities.

But Xena's discovery, and its relatively petite size and highly eccentric orbit, have prompted astronomers to rethink the definition of planet. For example, if Xena goes on guest roles in Battlestar Galactica as a space-faring journalist and under-cover Cylon, is she still a planet or is she a star? If Gabrielle virtually disappears from stage and screen, has she gone from a dim satellite to a black hole? Watch this space for more planetary news.

You can write Uber journalist Alex Poindexter at alexpoindexter@whoosh.org.

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