New Planet - What's in a Name?
May 4, 2015
What's In A Name?
Be it a planet or a Kuiper Belt Object, 2003 UB313 deserves a "real" name. What that name should be, though, depends on whether the world is classified as a planet or as something else.
If it's to be a planet, tradition dictates it be named after a Greek or Roman god, as all the other nine have been. There's Pluto, god of the underworld, Mercury, the messenger of the gods, Mars, the god of war and Venus, the goddess of beauty, plus a host of others.
If, on the other hand, UB313 is determined to be merely a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO), it must be named after some figure in a creation myth.
Planet UB313's co-discoverer, Michael E. Brown of Caltech, says he and the other members of his team insist that the new world be considered a planet. But they've chosen a name appropriate to a KBO.
They won't even divulge that, though. The most Brown would say is that the chosen name breaks new ground.
It's been reported in the popular press that the new world has been christened "Xena". Could it be that the first planet discovered in 75 years is to be named after the "Warrior Princess" of a popular TV show? That would be new ground, indeed.