An international team of scientists studied Comet Lovejoy as it passed close to the sun in early 2015, using a radio telescope in Spain to identify the molecules that the comet was giving off. Among them, they found ethyl alcohol and glycolaldehyde, a simple sugar. Their findings represented the first time these molecules have ever been observed in a comet, and could lend credence to the idea that comets brought the building blocks of life to Earth.
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Key Facts In This Video
The gases that we've observed in the comas surrounding comets are typically 95% water, carbon monoxide, and dioxide. 00:42
The concentration of oxygen in the coma of comet 67P seems to correlate with the coma's concentration of water vapor. 01:38
Comet Lovejoy is the first comet that scientists have observed releasing ethanol (alcohol) and glycolaldehyde (the simplest molecule related to sugar). 02:26