Comet Lovejoy releases alcohol and sugar in space, say scientists

Comet Lovejoy releases alcohol and sugar in space, say scientists

Comet is living up to its name by releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second.

A comet is releasing large amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team.

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Scientists found that the Lovejoy comet is spewing a mixture of alcohol, sugar and 21 other organic compounds as it speeds through our galaxy. “Comet Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity,” Nicolas Biver of the Paris Observatory, said in a press statement.

Ethyl alcohol and a simple sugar known as glycolaldehyde were detected in Comet Lovejoy, according to the study in the journalScience Advances.

The discovery marks the first time ethyl alcohol, the same type that you might find in alcoholic beverages, has been seen in a comet. It adds evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex molecules necessary for the emergence of life on Earth. 

Since comets contain some of the oldest and most primitive material in the solar system, scientists regard them as time capsules, offering a peek into the past. Some researchers think that comet impacts on ancient Earth delivered a supply of organic molecules that could have assisted the origin of life.

Comet Lovejoy is particularly interesting as it is one of the most active comets in Earth’s orbital neighbourhood.

The research was done using a 30-metre long telescope at the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique in Sierra Nevada, Spain in January 2015, when the comet was brightest and most productive.

Source www.independent.co.uk

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