Opinion

Giant gas cloud, made entirely of alcohol, found in space

OPINION: There was great excitement in scientific communities recently when a giant gas cloud, made up entirely of alcohol, was found in space.

This boozy nebula is about 463 billion kilometres long and would contain enough alcohol to make the equivalent of 400 trillion trillion pints of beer.

That wasn't what got people excited, though (among other reasons why drinkers shouldn't start looking into astronaut courses, the cloud is about 10,000 light years away, and the form of alcohol is methyl rather than ethanol).

No, the reason the cloud caused a stir is because the astronomers who found it believe it provides a glimpse of how a star is created.

Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith, who is the principal investigator for the study, said they had measured physical properties of the gas such as temperature, pressure and the strength and direction of the magnetic fields.

This information is vital when testing theories about how stars are born from the primordial gas in what is termed a "stellar nursery".

The team studied an area called W3 (OH), a region in our galaxy where stars are being formed by the gravitational collapse of a cloud of gas and dust.

I don't know about you, but I think that is pretty amazing.

It is official; we are living in the future promised to us by science fiction writers for decades.

We have not one but two roaming robotic laboratories presently on another planet (Mars).

They are collecting data and looking to see if any evidence exists as to whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

NASA is building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the sun.

Astronomers are finding new planets and moons that contain the necessary building blocks to support life as we know it, as well as finding giant clouds of alcohol floating around.

Last year, we had an astronaut visit Maryborough to tell us about the work of the International Space Station that's helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations.

The Space Station has six astronauts living in it, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time.

Across the world, the hardy souls who make up a club called The Adventurists are looking into how to get amateur travel and excitement enthusiasts on an expedition to the moon.

To use a Bill Lawry quote: "It's all happening".

Whenever life starts to seem a little mundane or dull, take a moment to consider how amazing the universe is, and how the human race is advancing to continue unravelling its many mysteries.

For more information on the cloud of alcohol, visit phys.org/news.

Topics:  alcohol astronomers discovery roderick makim scab science



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