Skywatch

  • May 18, 2006

    Episode 36: Getting to Know Xena

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    Shownotes

    Ten billion miles away lies an object officially called 2003 UB313, but commonly known as Xena. Xena was discovered a few years ago, and since then, it's been carefully observed by a variety of telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope recently nailed down the diameter of Xena at 1,490 miles, larger than Pluto's 1,422 miles. Xena is very reflective, almost like a mirror. From detailed observations of the reflected sunlight, it looks like Xena has a methane surface. It's possible that methane froze out of Xena's atmosphere, since it is so far away from the Sun. Xena also has a moon in orbit around it. The moon may help astronomers figure out the density of the object and draw further comparisons with Pluto.