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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Moist black hole home to largest and farthest water reservoir ever detected in the universe - 25th July 2011

The largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe has been discovered 30billion trillion miles away.

Looking into a quasar - one of the brightest and most violent objects in the cosmos - researchers have found a mass of water vapour that's at least 140trillion times that of all the water in the world's oceans combined, and 100,000 times bigger than the sun.

Because the quasar is so far away, its light has taken 12billion years to reach Earth.

The observations therefore reveal a time when the universe was just 1.6billion years old.

Matt Bradford, a scientist at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: '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 the very earliest times.'

A quasar is powered by an enormous black hole that is steadily consuming a surrounding disk of gas and dust; as it eats, the quasar spews out huge amounts of energy.

Two teams of astronomers, each led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology, studied a particular quasar called APM 08279+5255, which harbours a black hole 20billion times more massive than the sun and produces as much energy as a thousand trillion suns. Read More