If you think that getting drunk is a totally human thing, you should reconsider. Space is getting really, really drunk at this very moment thanks to what looks like the coolest comet to have ever crossed the Universe. And that’s not all of it. The comet seems to be spitting out sugar as well, so not only is space going to be able to make funny jokes, it is also a lot sweeter than it has ever been before.
The comet’s name is Lovejoy, a name that fits is quite well, and it is a comet that has faced the warmth of the sun and lived to tell the story, metaphorically of course. She is also a very special comet because it lead to the conclusion that this is the first time in recorded space history that ethyl alcohol, the same alcohol that you drink in all of your drinks, has been seen in a discovered comet.
Nicolas Biver from the Paris Observatory in France is the lead author of the paper that explains the comet in its details. Biver declared that “Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity”. Luckily enough, space is large enough to contain all that wine and not get drunk too fast, but we never know.
On a more serious note, the discovery of Lovejoy has led to some very interesting debates about how comets can actually be a source of life. Comets can shelter organic material responsible for the evolution of unknown life forms. Speculating about this is a little bit of a long shot, but given the fact that 21 organic molecules were found in this comet makes you wonder if it could really trigger life on a random planet that it might hot accidentally in a few hundred years.
Lovejoy’s scientific name is C/2014 Q2 and it is well known for its bright light. It is quite an active comet and there was a period earlier this year when people could see it with the naked eye. The comet’s color is green and you can consider yourself very lucky if you are ever going to encounter it.
Until further notice, we know that space is getting really, really drunk. Scientists are, however, using the comet’s proximity to study it in detail. While some wonder what they might discover inside it, others wonder if they could get a few thousand bottles of free wine.
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