A big, boozy comet is spewing out enormous amounts of alcohol and other organic compounds as it barrels through space, according to surprising new findings made by an international team of scientists.
Specifically, the scientists found that the Lovejoy comet -- one of the brightest comets to travel through the solar system in recent years -- is dumping 21 organic compounds into space, such as alcohol and even a type of simple sugar. In fact, the discovery marks the first time scientists have observed ethyl alcohol, the same stuff used to make your boozy drinks, in a comet, according to a press release from NASA.
"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 of the Paris Observatory, in the release.
What's even more significant about the discovery is that it adds to existing evidence that comets could have been the source of the organic molecules needed for the emergence of life, you know, like on earth. After all, comets aren't just junk shooting across space, they're icy remnants leftover the formation of the solar system, and they can offer scientists clues about how the planets and the rest of the solar system formed, according to NASA.
"The next step is to see if the organic material being found in comets came from the primordial cloud that formed the solar system or if it was created later on, inside the protoplanetary disk that surrounded the young sun," said Dominique Bockelée-Morvan of Paris Observatory, in the release. But in case you were wondering, NASA made no mention of attempting to harvest the exciting new space booze, unfortunately.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and is officially volunteering to lead the space mission to Comet Lovejoy -- who's with him? Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.