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Imaging of the CO Snow Line in a Solar Nebula Analog

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Science  09 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6146, pp. 630-632
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239560

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Solar Snow Lines

Models of the formation of our solar system have suggested that condensation lines, or snow lines—the distance from a star beyond which a gas or a liquid can condense into the solid phase—are favorable locations for planet formation. Taking advantage of the increase of N2H+ abundance in cold regions where CO condenses out of the gas phase, Qi et al. (p. 630, published online 18 July) used the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array to image the CO snow line in the disk around TW Hya, an analog of the solar nebula from which the solar system formed. This disk's snow line corresponds to Neptune's orbit in our solar system.