The Free Bar on the Comet Lovejoy

There are four types of alcohol: ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, propyl alcohol and butyl alcohol.

The first one, the ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is the type used in the production of alcoholic beverages. The other three types – methyl, propyl and butyl alcohol? Well, better to avoid even tasting them. They are not recommended for consumption as could cause serious injuries like blindness or even death.

Recently researchers announced that have found out that the lovely comet Lovejoy is giving away 21 different organic molecules in gas and among them… an alcohol. And not the harmful three types, but the real good stuff – the ethanol. Why it is such a big event? Because this is the first comet to be observed emitting alcohol.

“We found that comet Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity,” said Nicolas Biver of the Paris Observatory, France, lead author of a paper on the discovery published Oct. 23 in Science Advances.

Translated in figures this means that if the wine industry in the United States in 2013 has produced over 846 million gallons of wine which roughly means 5 bottles to the gallon, an average, the US wine industry produces about 134 bottles a second.

Great comet, isn’t it?

Comet Lovejoy Nasa image

Comet Lovejoy was discovered by the amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy of Australia in August of 2014. In January and February 2015 it was bright enough to be visible to the naked eye in the night sky. It is now formally cataloged as C/2014 Q2 and is one of the brightest comets since the comet Hale-Bopp in 1997.

I have already written about the Great Comets and especially their influence upon the wine vintages in the last two centuries, so besides the nice ‘alcohol’ surprise by the comet Lovejoy, should we have to expect that the 2015 will be the next incredible vintage?