There’s a killer happy hour going on right now and it won’t happen again for another 8,000 years. The downside is that it’s going on in space, so getting up there could be a slight issue.
A comet traveling across the galaxy is pumping out as much as “500 bottles of wine every second” with a sugary ethyl alcohol mix according to Nicolas Biver of the Paris Observatory in France. When the comet’s trajectory took it closer than ever before to the sun back on January 30th, sunlight caused the molecules in the comet to glow at different frequencies. This allowed scientists to use a radio telescope at Pico Veleta in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to analyze those frequencies, and to determine what the comet was partly made of – booze and sugar.
In addition to the cocktail ingredients, scientists found that the comet is carrying 21 other organic molecules, providing the first evidence that comets are capable of carrying complex organic molecules necessary for the start of life.
“The result definitely promotes the idea the comets carry very complex chemistry,” said Stefanie Milam of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We’re finding molecules with multiple carbon atoms. So now you can see where sugars start forming, as well as more complex organics such as amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — or nucleobases, the building blocks of DNA.”
This isn’t the first time an alcoholic mixture has been found outside of a space station in space. Last year we told you about a giant cloud of the strong stuff floating around in the cosmos.
The next step for the scientists will be to investigate if Lovejoy picked up the organic molecules from the primordial cloud that formed our solar system or from somewhere else.
In the meantime, how about NASA conducting a mission to bring back some of that space booze? It would certainly be a hot seller on a cocktail menu.