Scientists have located a comet that is currently producing ingredients for the perfect margarita—in space.
A team of researchers have discovered a comet that releases copious amounts of ethyl alcohol, the stuff that produces booze. Aptly named Comet Lovejoy, it's the first of its kind to ever be observed. The comet releases simple sugar and the equivalent of 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity, according to NASA.
Five-hundred bottles of wine per second?
NASA noticed the happy-hour comet as it passed by the sun on Jan. 30. It was releasing water at a rate of 20 tons per second, making it easier to observe because it was at its "brightest and most active."
In addition, Lovejoy's discovery may support the idea that comets played a role in sparking life on Earth, according to NASA. Stefanie Milam, a Goddard Space Flight Center researcher, explained how in a statement:
The result definitely promotes the idea the comets carry very complex chemistry. During the Late Heavy Bombardment about 3.8 billion years ago, when many comets and asteroids were blasting into Earth and we were getting our first oceans, life didn't have to start with just simple molecules like water, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen. Instead, life had something that was much more sophisticated on a molecular level.
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. These can start forming much easier than beginning with molecules with only two or three atoms.
That means our existence could be credited to booze- and sugar-filled comets like Lovejoy. Maybe the universe really is just one big party.