Join Donate

The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

V883 Orionis, an infant stellar system

V883 Orionis, an infant stellar system

Click to view full image

A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF)/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

V883 Orionis, an infant stellar system
This artist’s impression of the water snowline around the young star V883 Orionis, as detected with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in 2016. Young stars are often surrounded by dense, rotating discs of gas and dust, known as protoplanetary discs, from which planets are born. The heat from a typical young solar-type star means that the water within a protoplanetary disc is gaseous up to distances of around 3 au from the star.

Young stars are often surrounded by dense, rotating discs of gas and dust, known as protoplanetary discs, from which planets are born. The heat from a typical young solar-type star means that the water within a protoplanetary disc is gaseous up to distances of around 3 au from the star — less than 3 times the average distance between the Earth and the Sun — or around 450 million kilometres. Further out, due to the extremely low pressure, the water molecules transition directly from a gaseous state to form a patina of ice on dust grains and other particles. The region in the protoplanetary disc where water transitions between the gas and solid phases is known as the water snow line.

But the star V883 Orionis is unusual. A dramatic increase in its brightness has pushed the water snow line out to a distance of around 40 au (about 6 billion kilometres or roughly the size of the orbit of the dwarf planet Pluto in our Solar System). 

Learn more at ESO.

Original image data dated on or about July 13, 2016

Explore related images: pretty pictures, extrasolar planets, art

Comments & Sharing
More Images
Bill Nye and people
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan
Pretty Pictures

Support the Bruce Murray Space Image Library and help us share the wonders of other worlds.

Donate

"We're changing the world. Are you in?"
- CEO Bill Nye

I'm In!