Scientists have found the biggest and oldest reservoir of water ever—so large and so old, it’s almost impossible to describe.
The water is out in space, a place we used to think of as desolate and desert dry, but it’s turning out to be pretty lush.
Researchers found a lake of water so large that it could provide each person on Earth an entire planet’s worth of water—20,000 times over. Yes, so much water out there in space that it could supply each one of us all the water on Earth—Niagara Falls, the Pacific Ocean, the polar ice caps, the puddle in the bottom of the canoe you forgot to flip over—20,000 times over.
The water is in a cloud around a huge black hole that is in the process of sucking in matter and spraying out energy (such an active black hole is called a quasar), and the waves of energy the black hole releases make water by literally knocking hydrogen and oxygen atoms together.
The official NASA news release describes the amount of water as “140 trillion times all the water in the world’s oceans,” which isn’t particularly helpful, except if you think about it like this.
That one cloud of newly discovered space water vapor could supply 140 trillion planets that are just as wet as Earth is.
Mind you, our own galaxy, the Milky Way, has about 400 billion stars, so if every one of those stars has 10 planets, each as wet as Earth, that’s only 4 trillion planets worth of water.
The new cloud of water is enough to supply 28 galaxies with water.