Researchers discovered a never-before-seen snow line around a young star that holds the secrets to new planets forming in space, as well as, secrets of our own solar system planets.

A frozen water ring was seen around the young star. Researchers had suspected this phenomenon for a long time, but it had never been spotted before because it normally appears too close to the star.

Illustration of the water snow line spotted around the young star V883 Origins. Credit: Credit: A. Angelich

Normally the heat emitted by a young star doesn’t allow water particles to freeze, or at least not in a 450 million kilometers radius. Yet, in a much wider distance, water can condensate and form different ice layers around the star, creating what researchers call a snowline.

1,350 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Orion, lays a young star called V883 Orionis. The star has recently phased a burst of heat in its inside, thanks to the adding of a new material on its insides.

The burst of heat on the young star was able to make water particles freeze out of the planet’s close range and to 3.7 billion miles. The outburst of heat also made the star’s surface 400 times more hot and luminous than the Solar system’s sun.

Planet formation

Discovering this snow line has excited researchers since it means they will now get a better look at how alien planets form and get a better understanding of the process and how these snowlines contribute.

Researchers had previously determined that the stellar snowlines contribute in different ways to planet formation. Rocky sections of debris around the lines can form planets similar to Mars or our own Earth. Meanwhile, planets such as Jupiter and Saturn (gas planets) form thanks to the frozen parts.

“Since water ice is more abundant than dust itself beyond the snowline, planets can aggregate more solid material and form bigger and faster there. In this way, giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn can form before the protoplanetary disk is gone,” said Zhaohuan Zhu, study researcher in a press release

Researchers were able to spot the snowline thanks to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), telescopes located in Chile, that have been catalogued as the world’s most powerful observatory.

ALMA has pursued its mission to observe and study the most distant and ancient galaxies in the universe by spotting the snowline around Orionis. It turns out that this frozen line is the key factor for other planets to form.

The observatory’s main goals are to study young stars and understand the process of planet-forming and thanks to the outburst that happened on V883. Researchers will now take a deeper look into the range of the young star.

The study’s findings were published on July 13 in the journal Nature

Source: Nature