This ALMA image shows a detailed view of the star-forming region AFGL 5142. A bright, massive star in its infancy is visible at the centre of the image.
The flows of gas from this star have opened up a cavity in the region, and it is in the walls of this cavity (shown in colour), that phosphorus-bearing molecules like phosphorus monoxide are formed. The different colours represent material moving at different speeds.
A joint study linking the presence of phosphorus monoxide in this star-forming region with analogous observations performed by the Rosetta mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko showed how this compound may have played a crucial role in starting life on our planet.