A newborn star located some 1,300 light-years away has given astronomers a unique opportunity to take a peek at some of the organic building blocks of the Universe.
As reported by ALMA, scientists using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array have detected various complex organic molecules around the young star V883 Ori.
Astronomers note that as the star grows, its heat is pushing back the snowline that formed around the star, revealing the plethora of organic molecules that have been locked inside it.
This is a treat for astronomers, as the snow line is usually way to close to the star for us to observe it directly, but the snow line around V883 Ori has hit a sweet spot that allowed astronomers from Earth to observe what lays beyond the snow line.
Using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array or ALMA scientists were able to successfully observe the complex organic molecules including methanol, acetaldehyde, methyl formate, acetonitrile, and acetone.
Scientists note that this is the first time that acetone was unambiguously detected in a planet-forming region or protoplanetary disk.
“It is difficult to image a disk on the scale of a few AU with current telescopes,” said Jeong-Eun Lee, who led the research team.
“However, around an outburst star, ice melts in a wider area of the disk and it is easier to see the distribution of molecules. We are interested in the distribution of complex organic molecules as the building blocks of life.”
The observations are important because scientists believe that ice, including frozen organic molecules, could be closely related to the origin of life on planets.
That’s why in our solar system, astronomers focus on researching comets as they are extremly rich in icy compounds.
The findings have been published in Nature Astronomy.
For example, the European Space Agency’s legendary comet explorer Rosetta found rich organic chemistry around the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Comets are thought to have been formed in the outer colder region of the proto-Solar System, where the molecules were contained in ice. Probing the chemical composition of ice in protoplanetary disks is directly related to probing the origin of organic molecules in comets, and the origin of the building blocks of life.