BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Space researchers from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed an astronomical premiere: the view of a star’s snow line. The ALMA is a telescope facility in Chile. It has helped astronomers discover the first ever proof of a water snow line around a young star.
The young V883 Orionis star had a violent outburst and that has given astronomers enough light to observe a water „snowline” in the form of a disk. The disk will likely later form a planet, so it’s called protoplanetary. It’s now at a transition point, where temperatures are low enough for water ice to form.
The increase in the star’s brightness pushed the snow line out of the immediate orbit, to a distance of about 6 billion kilometers, approximately the size of the dwarf planet Pluto.
The sudden increase in brightness that happened to V883 Orionis is an example of what happens when a large quantity of material from the surrounding disc falls onto the star’s surface. It acts as combustible. The V883 Orionis is just 30 per cent more massive than our Sun, but because of the outburst, it has 400 times more light intensity.
The observations took astronomers by surprise, as they haven’t seen anything like this so far. Such outbursts are an important stage in the evolution of many planetary systems. So this could be the first observation of a common event.
There is now evidence to support the idea that a frosty region which leads to planet formation exists around stars. Water ice groups the debris into larger and larger particle. Astronomers also believe that these are perfect conditions for the formation of small, rocky planets like Earth and Mars.
Outside the snowline, ice results in the rapid formation of comets and gas planets like Jupiter. By studying these stages in planet formation, scientists will be able to explain how Earth formed and how life appeared on our planet. This is why the astronomical premiere is so important.
That way, the observation from ALMA could lead scientists to understand fully how planets across the Universe took shape and evolved.
The findings were reported in the journal Nature. The V883 Orionis star is at a distance of roughly 1,350 light-years away from Earth, in the Orion Nebula Cluster.
Image Source – Wikipedia