Real or highly probable, that is. Which is why this is not in the Twilight Zone.
I thought it might be interesting to have a thread for posting random fascinating/mind-blowing/disturbing/intense/bizarre stuff we either know is real because we've observed it or else is very likely real even if it hasn't been directly observed yet. Space is a real trip.
To kick this off, and what inspired me to post this in the first place, was this article claiming (with evidence!) that parts of outer space can get you drunk.
Literally, because they contain massive clouds of alcohols, right here in our own galaxy! While "58 quadrillion miles" seems far away, that's only 10,000 light years so in a cosmic sense it's like a having a bar downstairs from our apartment. And "massive" is an understatement, though if you try to make a cocktail you need to make sure you draw from the ethanol cloud and not the methanol-and-other-stuff cloud...
Discovered in 1995 near the constellation Aquila, the cloud is 1000 times larger than the diameter of our solar system. It contains enough ethyl alcohol to fill 400 trillion trillion pints of beer. To down that much alcohol, every person on earth would have to drink 300,000 pints each day—for one billion years.
Sadly, for those of you planning an interstellar pub crawl, the cloud is 58 quadrillion miles away. It’s also a cocktail of 32 compounds, some of them as nasty as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and ammonia.
The galaxy has a second intergalactic liquor cabinet in the Sagittarius B2 Cloud (the bright, orange-red spot in the image above), which holds 10 billion billion billion liters of cosmic hooch. Most of it’s undrinkable, though. The cloud holds mostly methanol, the same alcohol in antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. Similarly, near the center of the Milky Way, a cloudy bridge of methanol surrounds a stellar nursery. The bridge of booze is 288 billion miles wide.
It wasn’t spilled after some Martian keg party. As new stars heat up—formed as clouds of gas and dust collapse—ethyl alcohol can attach to specks of floating dust. As the dust moves toward the budding star, the alcohol heats, separates, and turns to gas. For astronomers, these alcohol clouds can be a telling clue into how our biggest stars form.
But wait, it gets weirder. But in a good way for a change, if somewhat surreal:
Before reading this article, if anyone asked me what the center of our galaxy smelled or tasted like I would not have suggested "raspberry-flavored rum." I'm not sure what I would have guessed, but a tasty cocktail would not have been it.
Now, if you’re wondering what these space spirits may taste or smell like, Sagittarius B2 has an answer. The cloud contains ethyl formate, an ester that helps give raspberries their taste—and reportedly smells like rum. It seems, then, that the center of our galaxy may taste and smell like raspberry-flavored rum.