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Interstellar Alcohol Cloud

In 2006, astronomers at the Jodrell Bank Observatory discovered a massive cloud of methyl alcoholstretching over 288 billion miles in the W3(OH) region of our galaxy. The cloud of alcohol is in gas form, rotating around a central star in a stellar nursery where other stars are thought to be forming, and scientists studying the cloud hope that it will help them to better understand star formation.

Although the possibility of an enormous cloud composed of alcohol is tempting to some, unfortunately methyl alcohol (also known as wood alcohol or wood spirits) is toxic to humans and its prime use is for industrial applications including chemical manufacturing processes, aerosol propellant and the production of bio-diesel and gasoline additives. Pictured left is the W3(OH) region where the alcohol cloud was found. The cloud wraps around the stellar nursery, and it is represented by the green colors in the image.

Photo: Jodrell Bank Observatory