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Scientists discover massive water reservoir surrounded by a black hole 12 billion light-years away

The existence of life in space has not been proven yet, but the astronomers at NASA have discovered the presence of a gigantic mass of water away from Earth.

Scientists discover massive water reservoir surrounded by a black hole 12 billion light-years away
Cover Image Source: NASA | ESA

Some of the brilliant minds on Earth are always on the lookout for finding life in distant space. It could be a sign that humanity is a step closer to discovering habitable regions in the farthest corners of the universe. According to NASA, a team of two astronomers has made a brilliant discovery involving the largest reservoir of water in space. The water body lies about 12 billion light-years away from Earth.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Alex Andrews
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Alex Andrews

The water reservoir is reportedly surrounded by a massive feeding black hole known as a quasar and is way larger than all the water bodies on Earth combined. Matt Bradford, one of the scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, who was involved in the discovery of the water and the black hole around it, wrote a statement about their finding. "The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water," he mentioned. "It's another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times."

Image Source: NSA / ESA
Image Source: NSA / ESA

Bradford and his team, who have been conducting this research for a long time, were partially funded by NASA and their findings have appeared in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Along with Bradford's team, there is another group of scientists led by Dariusz Lisa, who has been looking into the same spatial phenomenon for years. Bradford's team started their observations in 2008 and used an instrument called "Z-Spec" at the California Institute of Technology's Submillimeter Observatory.

The Z-Spec was a 33-foot-long telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii and the rest of their observation were done with the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA), a type of device with an array of radio dishes in the Inyo Mountains of Southern California. Meanwhile, Lis' team used the Plateau de Bure Interferometer in the French Alps to find water. Back in 2010, they detected water in APM 8279+5255 and then Bradford's team could get more information about the water and figure its mass.

Representational Image Source: Pexels | Thirdman
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Thirdman

According to the scientists' findings, the quasar holds a black hole that is 20 billion times more massive than the sun in our solar system. A while ago, another group of scientists discovered an exoplanet that seemed to be covered in an ocean similar to that of the Earth. As per the study conducted by astronomers of the University of Cambridge, the observations by NASA's James Webb space telescope (JWST) revealed prospectives of a "hycean" planet. While fascinating, the findings published in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Journal have sparked debate among astronomers, as per The Guardian

Image Source: Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope November 2, 2016 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. It is scheduled to be launched in October 2018. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Image Source: Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope November 2, 2016, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. It is scheduled to be launched in October 2018. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The planet is now known as TOI-270 d, which is twice the radius of Earth and nearly 70 light years away from us. The JWST observations showed the presence of water vapor and chemical signatures of methane and carbon dioxide in its atmosphere. Based on these data, the astronomers presumed the planet to have a deep water ocean underneath a hydrogen-based atmosphere. Lead researcher Professor Nikku Madhusudhan shared that the exoplanet's ocean temperatures could soar above 100 degrees Celsius. As per their study, it's not clear if the planet would be habitable due to the soaring temperature of the water.

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