You might have fantasised about an unlimited alcohol party in a starry place. And, it seems that your dream has come true (almost).
Researchers have observed that Comet Lovejoy, also known as C/2014 Q2, is releasing large amounts of ethanol, the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, as well as a type of sugar called glycoaldehyde.
Nicolas Biver of the Paris Observatory in France estimated that the comet is pumping out as much alcohol as in 500 bottles of wine every second. NASA said in a news release:
The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life on Earth.
You may wonder how do scientists on earth determined the composition of the comet flying out in the space.
On January 30 when Comet Lovejoy made its closest approach to the sun, the molecules in the material flowing off the comet started glowing at different frequencies. Researchers have observed that each kind of molecule glows at specific, signature frequencies, that allows them to identify it with detectors on the telescope. The scientists used the 30-meter (almost 100-foot) diameter radio telescope at Pico Veleta in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Spain to analyze those frequencies and to determine the comet was partly made up of alcohol and sugar, CNN reported.
Considered to be remnants of the formation of our Solar System, comets hold clue to how the solar system was made.
It is believed by some researchers that the impact of a comet delivered a supply of organic molecules
that could have assisted the origin of life. This hypothesis is supported by the discovery of complex organic molecules in Lovejoy and other comets. Comet Lovejoy, formally named C/2014 Q2, was discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy in August 2014.