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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

'Non-Planet' Pluto Gets New Class

from the BBC News Online

"Plutoid" is the word of the moment for astronomers. It is the new classification that has been sanctioned for the object that was formerly known as the "ninth planet."

It is nearly two years since the International Astronomical Union (IAU) stripped Pluto of its former status as a "proper" planet. Now an IAU committee, meeting in Oslo, has suggested that small, nearly spherical objects orbiting beyond Neptune should carry the "plutoid" tag.

As astronomy's official nomenclature organisation, the IAU must approve all new names and classifications. Its decision at the 2006 General Assembly to demote Pluto from "planet" to "dwarf planet" caused an international furore.

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Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC), a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. In an exclusive American Scientist interview, Arthur Kosowsky—a member of the ATC team and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh—discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.

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