Astronomers find Pluto-sized objects using ALMA

Harvard astronomers have found Pluto-sized objects moving around the sun. According to the published paper, these objects can be closely related with stars too. The discovery was made by using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a radio telescope setup in Chile.

With ALMA’s help, they keep tabs on star HD 107146 and the protoplanetary disk that surrounds it. Currently, the scientists observed an uptick in the amount of dust particles visible in the out rings of the disk.

Dust within the debris disk is usually the result of material left over from when a planet forms. The astronomers say the freshly kicked-up dust around of the debris disk is proof of the creation of new Pluto-sized planetesimals.

Planetesimals are solid objects that are analyzed in a young solar system’s debris disk. They are large enough to affect surroundings rock, dust and gas. However, they are not very large to be considered as a protoplanet or secure a stable orbit around its sun.

Luca Ricci, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the lead author of the study, said, “The dust in HD 107146 unearthed this very amazing feature it gets thicker in the very distant outer reaches of the star’s disk. The surprising part is that this is the opposite of what we see in younger primordial disks where the dust is denser near the star”.

Furthermore, Luca said the research team might have possibly captured this particular debris disk at a stage in which Pluto-size planetesimals are developing right now in the outer disk while other Pluto-size bodies have already been noticed closer to the star.

The details of this research that are related to the new observations will soon be issued in the Astrophysical Journal.