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Comet Lovejoy Leaves a Trail of Alcohol and Clues

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You’re going to need a space suit to enjoy your newest happy hour spot: Comet Lovejoy.

This icy ball of dust released “as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity” according to astronomer and comet specialist Nicolas Biver, the lead author of a recent study on the comet’s chemistry.


Although Lovejoy was first spotted in August of 2014, scientists waited for the comet’s closest approach to the sun (and Earth) in January 2015 to use spectrographic studies to detect its chemistry, which included 21 different complex organic molecules.

Two chemicals found in Lovejoy’s makeup—ethyl alcohol and simple sugar—had never been identified on comets before. According to a statement from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the comet’s complex organic chemistry lends to the hypothesis that comet impacts may have assisted in the origin of life on Earth.

Read more about the trail of sugar and alcohol in Lovejoy’s wake at Time.

Series & Type: News

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