Detection of methanol shows comets are forming in distant solar systems

ESO/M. Kornmesser
June 15, 2016
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protoplanet with inset of methanol molecule
ESO/M. Kornmesser

This artist's impression shows the closest known protoplanetary disk, around the star TW Hydrae in the huge constellation of Hydra (The Water Snake). The organic molecule methyl alcohol (methanol) has been found by the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in this disk. This is the first such detection of the compound in a young planet-forming disk, and points to a region where comets are forming.

Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser