Complex organic molecules (COMs), which are the seeds of prebiotic material and precursors of amino acids and sugars, form in the icy mantles of circumstellar dust grains1 but cannot be detected remotely unless they are heated and released to the gas phase. Around solar-mass stars, water and COMs only sublimate in the inner few au of the circumstellar disk2, making them extremely difficult to spatially resolve and study. Sudden increases in the luminosity of the central star will quickly expand the sublimation front (the so-called snow line) to larger radii, as seen previously in the FU Ori outburst of the young star V883 Ori3. Here, we take advantage of the rapid increase in disk temperature of V883 Ori to detect and analyse five different COMs—methanol, acetone, acetonitrile, acetaldehyde and methyl formate—in spatially resolved submillimetre observations. The abundances of COMs in the disk around V883 Ori are in reasonable agreement with cometary values4, suggesting that outbursting young stars can provide a special opportunity to study the ice composition of material directly related to planet formation.

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This paper makes use of the ALMA data, which can be downloaded from the ALMA archive (https://almascience.nao.ac.jp/aq/) with project codes 2016.1.00728.S and 2017.1.01066.T. The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ. J.-E.L. is supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (grant no. NRF-2018R1A2B6003423) and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute under the R&D programme supervised by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. G.H. is funded by general grant 11473005 awarded by the National Science Foundation of China. D.J. is supported by the National Research Council of Canada and by an NSERC Discovery Grant. Y.A. acknowledges support from JSPS KAHENHI grant numbers 16K13782 and 18H05222.

Author information


  1. School of Space Research, Kyung Hee University, Yongin-si, Korea

    • Jeong-Eun Lee
    • , Seokho Lee
    • , Giseon Baek
    •  & Sung-Yong Yoon
  2. Department of Astronomy, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

    • Yuri Aikawa
  3. Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Núcleo de Astronomía, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile

    • Lucas Cieza
  4. Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Peking University, Beijing, China

    • Gregory Herczeg
  5. NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

    • Doug Johnstone
  6. Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

    • Simon Casassus


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J.-E.L., S.L. and G.B. performed the detailed calculations and line fittings used in the analysis. J.-E.L. wrote the manuscript. All authors were participants in the discussion of results, determination of the conclusions and revision of the manuscript.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jeong-Eun Lee.

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  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Tables 1–3, Supplementary Figures 1–5

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