Astronomers using Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected various complex organic molecules including methanol, acetone, acetaldehyde, methyl formate and acetonitrile -- the building blocks of life -- around the young star V883 Ori. A sudden outburst from this star is releasing molecules from the icy compounds in the planet forming disk. The chemical composition of the disk is similar to that of comets in the modern Solar System. The ALMA observations enable astronomers to reconstruct the evolution of organic molecules from the birth of the Solar System to the objects we see today.
V883 Ori is a young star located at 1300 light-years away from the Earth. This star is experiencing a sudden increase of luminosity, due to a bursting torrent of material flowing from the disk to the star. As these outbursts last only on the order of 100 years, the chance to observe a burst is rather rare. Astronomers expect to be able to trace the chemical composition of ice throughout the evolution of young stars, according to National Institutes of Natural Sciences.