Lucy Lawless is a New Zealand actress and singer. She is best known for her roles as the title character in the television series Xena: Warrior Princess and as Lucretia in the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Although she is internationally recognized for her acting skills, she became more popular when a newly discovered planet in our solar system was nicknamed after her!
Photos of Lucy Lawless
In January 2005, a team led by Astronomer Michael E. Brown discovered a dwarf planet in the solar system. Since the planet is larger than Pluto, it gained international attention and forced a year-long debate among astronomers as to the definition of a planet. As the planet was yet to be given a name, a reporter from the New York Times pestered Michael Brown for the new planet's name. Michael Brown confessed that "Xena" was the informal name used internally by the discovery team. He told the reporter that the name was inspired by the title character of the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess. According to Brown, the team chose the name "Xena" since the new planet started with an X (planet X). He said the name sounded mythological. Also, at the time, the series was still on TV!
Photos of Xena and the planet Eris
Hence, the new planet became known to the wider public as Xena. Also, New Scientist magazine asked the public to vote a name for the planet and Xena was ranked number four !
In December 2005, Lucy Lawless phoned Michael Brown to thank him for using the name of a character she played. She claimed that she never dared hope the name would stick! The planet is officially now known as Eris. Eris is now the largest known dwarf planet in the solar system. It was named after the Greco-Roman goddess of strife and discord. Lucy Lawless as Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand
The name is very fitting as the planet's discovery led to a year-long argument among the top astronomers in the world! Although the planet's name was changed from Xena to Eris, Michael Brown made an indirect tribute to Lucy Lawless by naming the planet's moon Dysnomia after the Greek goddess of lawlessness!
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