NASA Just Discovered the Largest Reserve of Water in the Universe, and It’s Not on Earth – Teach Me Science

The largest mass of water ever discovered in the universe is approximately 140 trillion times the amount of water present in Earth’s oceans. The most amazing thing about all this is that it is powering a supermassive black hole!

The results were presented by two teams of astronomers just over a decade ago. Water surrounds a huge active quasar black hole, more than 12 billion light-years away. Quasars are active galactic nuclei in which a supermassive black hole is pulling material from the surrounding disk—in other words, feeding itself. In some quasars, the black hole creates a jet that shoots out at almost the speed of light.

Because light had to travel over 12 billion years to reach our telescopes, we are seeing water that was present only about 1.8 billion years after the Big Bang. This makes this discovery the largest and oldest water reserve known to date.

This artist’s concept illustrates a quasar similar to APM 08279+5255. (Photo: NASA/ESA).

The quasar is powered by a huge black hole that continually consumes the disk of gas and dust surrounding it. While eating, the quasar spits out a huge amount of energy. They are incredibly luminous, so they can be detected over vast distances, with the most distant objects being relatively easy to spot.

According to NASA, teams of astronomers were studying a special quasar called APM 08279+5255, which contains a black hole that is 20 billion times more massive than the Sun and produces as much energy as a quadrillion suns. The water is in the form of vapor and is distributed around the black hole in a gaseous region hundreds of light years across. A light year is almost 9.5 billion kilometers.

“Its presence indicates that the quasar is bathing the gas in X-rays and infrared radiation, and that the gas is unusually hot and dense by astronomical standards. Although the gas is 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius) and 300 billion times less dense than Earth’s atmosphere, it is still five times hotter and 10 to 100 times denser than normal in galaxies such as the Milky Way. The Way” – NASA. – officials write in a statement.

Based on measurements of water vapor and other molecules such as carbon monoxide, astronomers estimate there is enough gas to fuel the black hole until it grows to about six times its size. Although this is not clear, as some of the gas may end up condensing into stars or being ejected from the quasar.

This probably hasn’t occurred to many people yet, since it has long been believed that the Earth is a unique and privileged place that contains water. But water is everywhere, in fact it is one of the most common molecules. Water is formed when two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom combine, so theoretically there could be a lot of water in outer space.

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