Variety

Largest distant water reservoir in universe discovered

PTI Washington | Updated on July 23, 2011

Astronomers have discovered what they claim is the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe.

Looking from a distance of 30 billion trillion miles away into a quasar, a team at California Institute of Technology has found a mass of water vapour that is at least 140 trillion times that of all the water in the world’s oceans combined, and 100,000 times more massive than the sun.

Quasar is one of the brightest and most violent objects in the cosmos.

Because the quasar is so far away, its light has taken 12 billion years to reach the Earth. The observations, therefore, reveal a time when the universe was just 1.6 billion years old, say the astronomers.

“The environment around this quasar is unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water. It’s another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at very earliest times,” team leader Matt Bradford said.

Since astronomers expected water vapour to be present even in the early universe, the discovery of water is not itself a surprise, Bradford says.

Published on July 23, 2011

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