ESO’s ALMA Makes First Observation of Snow Line in Space

Artist’s impression of the water snowline around V883 Orionis. Credit: European Southern Observatory

Artist’s impression of the water snowline around V883 Orionis.
Credit: European Southern Observatory

One of the more noticeable themes in planetary science over the last few years has been the discovery that our solar solar system, and presumably many others as well, is a very wet place, brimming with water, ice and snow in some of the most unexpected locations, such as possible subsurface ocean on Pluto.

But how about a water/snow line in space itself.

According to the latest release from the European Southern Observatory, just such a line has been discovered in the protoplanetary disc around a young star.

ESO Press Release

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has made the first ever resolved observation of a water snow line within a protoplanetary disc. This line marks where the temperature in the disc surrounding a young star drops sufficiently low for snow to form. A dramatic increase in the brightness of the young star V883 Orionis flash heated the inner portion of the disc, pushing the water snow line out to a far greater distance than is normal for a protostar, and making it possible to observe it for the first time.

The full story is here.

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