Comet spews equivalent of 500 bottles of wine per second
Friday, November 6, 2015, 4:51 PM - Comet Lovejoy is zipping around space and giving away free alcohol and sugar, according to NASA.
An international team has declared there's a celestial 'happy hour' going on every time Lovejoy is near, after new observations found the comet was spewing ethyl alcohol, the same substance found in alcoholic beverages and sugar in large amounts.
"We found that comet Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity," said Nicolas Biver lead author of the paper documenting the observations, in a statement.
Biver's team found 21 different organic molecules. This marks the first time ethyl alcohol has been found in a comet.
Photo of Comet Lovejoy. Courtesy: NASA
The discovery could give clues to how comets may have brought sugars and alcohols, among other things, to ancient Earth.
Researchers made their observations when Lovejoy zipped by the sun in January. When it made its closest approach to the sun, it launched 20 tonnes of a water-sugar-alcohol mix per second into space.
Scientists hope to build upon their findings and search for more complex organic species in new comets, the Huffington Post reports.