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Comet Lovejoy Spews Alcohol and Sugar in Space

Antonia R.Antonia R.
Comet Lovejoy

A team from the Paris Observatory has discovered that the Comet Lovejoy gushes forth notable amounts of alcohol and sugar throughout space. New data reveals that the celestial object contains ethyl alcohol, the same as the one found in all alcoholic beverages.

This is the 1st such case known to science, with experts saying they are genuinely surprised by the fact that a comet can carry alcohol in space.

"We found that the amount of alcohol that Lovejoy spewed at the peak of its activity was equivalent to at least 500 bottles of wine per second, " says Dr. Nicolas Biver, expert at the Observatory.

Astrophysicists say that 21 organic compounds, like on many other comets, have been found on Lovejoy. But unlike elsewhere, on Lovejoy these compounds are responsible for its alcohol and sugar content, which perfectly matches the celestial object's name.

According to scientists, the presence of such molecules on Lovejoy may be able to prove that these types of cosmic objects brought organic molecules to our planet, seeding life.


The molecules were spotted in the gas trail of the comet, among which the most curious ones were ethyl alcohol, glycolaldehyde, monosaccharides.

Comet Lovejoy, formally categorized as C/2011 W3, is one of the brightest and most active comets to be spotted after Hale–Bopp in 1997.

Scientists find it remarkably fascinating because its core is very active, while its orbit is relatively close to Earth.

During its flyby of the Sun and Earth this past January, it was visible with the naked eye for more than a month, while at its peak it was ejecting over 20 tones of water vapor per second.

Scientists say that the next time Comet Lovejoy will be visible will be after 8000 years. Experts are studying its composition based on the gases it releases during its flyby of the Sun.