Comet Lovejoy Left Lots Of Alcohol In Space

Comet Lovejoy Left Lots Of Alcohol In Space

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.

03:53

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    The gases that we've observed in the comas surrounding comets are typically 95% water, carbon monoxide, and dioxide. (0:42)

  • 2

    The concentration of oxygen in the coma of comet 67P seems to correlate with the coma's concentration of water vapor. (1:38)

  • 3

    Comet Lovejoy is the first comet that scientists have observed releasing ethanol (alcohol) and glycolaldehyde (the simplest molecule related to sugar). (2:26)

See all

Alcohol

Outer Space

Chemistry

Dinosaurs

Get smarter every day! Like us on Facebook.
You'll get the most interesting and engaging topics in your feed, straight from our team of experts.