There is a reserve of water the size of 140 billion oceans

The Earth has a lot of water, even a lot! In fact, the amount is such that it is difficult to count and translate the value into figures. It is estimated that the Earth will have 1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 liters of water. However, only 2% of all this water is drinkable. Even so, it’s a large amount that isn’t evenly distributed. What if one day we needed more water?

There is no event in sight that would cause us to lose this precious liquid in space. However, in that same space, a few billion light years away, there is a place that has 140 billion times more water than what we have here on our planet. So 140 billion times one thousand two hundred and sixty trillion liters.

Illustration of a quasar that will contain 14 billion times more water than there is here on Earth

Water in the form of vapor is 140 billion more than what we have on Earth

Well, it might not be easy to figure out those liter numbers on the scale we're dealing with. However, astronomers have found this reserve hidden in a distant supermassive black hole. It is said to be the largest reservoir of water in the universe and holds 4,000 times the amount found in the Milky Way.

This amount of water was discovered by two teams of astronomers 48 billion billion kilometers away, where it appears as vapor scattered over hundreds of light years.

Image of quasar APM 08279+5255

quasar illustration APM 08279+5255: CXC/M. Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/G.Chartas

The reservoir was found in a gaseous area of ​​a quasar, which is a bright, compact region at the heart of a galaxy powered by a black hole. This discovery demonstrates that water can be present throughout the universe, even at the beginning.

Although this event does not surprise the experts, water has never been discovered so far. The light from the quasar (in particular, the quasar APM 08279+5255 in the constellation Lynx) took 12 billion Light years reaching Earth, implying that this body of water already existed when the universe was only 1.6 billion years old.

One group of researchers began using the Z-Spec instrument in 2009 at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory in Hawaii, while another used the Plateau de Bure Interferometer in the French Alps.

These sensors detect millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths, allowing the detection of trace gases (or vast reservoirs of water vapor) in the early cosmos. The discovery of numerous spectral water imprints on the quasar provided the researchers with the data they needed to calculate the vast magnitude of the reservoir.

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