Scientists detect Ethyl Alcohol and Simple Sugar from gas emitted by Comet Lovejoy

For the first time, a team of scientists have discovered two complex organic molecules viz. Ethyl alcohol and a simple sugar known as glycolaldehyde on a comet.
These molecules were discovered on Comet Lovejoy from gas emitted by a comet by scientists from NASA, the Paris Observatory and other organizations.
Significance of this discovery: These two complex organic molecules are considered as building blocks of life. This discovery on a comet may shed light on the cosmic origins of earth i.e. provide important clues to the hypothesis that a falling comet collided with earth, leading to the origins of life.
Key facts

  • The research was done using a 30-metre long telescope at the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique locaed in Sierra Nevada in Spain.
  • It was conducted in January 2015 when the Comet Lovejoy was closest to the Sun and was brightest and most productive.
  • The scientists found that Comet Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in five hundred bottles of wine every second during its peak activity.
  • They also had detected 21 different organic molecules in gas released from the comet along with the ethyl alcohol and simple sugar.



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