I’m a bit of a fan of physics and astronomy. I didn’t really like physics at school, though I did want to be an astronaut, sailing among the stars. No, my interest came to me in adult life, but before the days of Brian Cox. It wasn’t Cox who converted me, but Bill Bryson. He published a book called ‘the history of everything’ which talks really eloquently and, more importantly, in language a layman can understand about the sciences, especially physics. I enjoy the subjects for the mind-blowing numbers and scale and beauty of our universe. A universe, by the way, where I see a creator’s hand everywhere I look.
Nowadays, I keep up with my physics and astronomy via a few websites and blogs including, of course, NASA. And it was NASA back in July who came up with my latest favourite mind-blowing numbers.
Because they announced on their website that they had found water in space. It’s interesting that they’ve found water in what has always been described as a vacuüm, an empty nothing where no-one can hear you scream. But it’s not really what you would call mind-blowing.
But that’s until you talk about the scale of the find.
This reservoir of water, snappily named APM 08279+5255, is massive. Massive doesn’t really cover it. It’s enough to give all 6 billion people on this planet the amount of water that is on this entire planet. That’s a lot of water. But there’s enough to not just do this once, but to do it 20,000 times. Every drop of water on the planet including that in the atmosphere, for every single person – 20,000 times.
Now we’re getting into mind-blowing territory!
This water is in a cloud on the edge of a quasar. A quasar is basically a black hole that’s active, swallowing matter and kicking out vast quantities of energy. It’s this energy that is essentially forcing atoms of hydrogen and oxygen together to create the water.
If you’re still struggling to get your head around how much water we’re talking about here, try this: That single cloud of water could supply 140 trillion planets with the same amount of water that Earth has. Bear in mind that the Milky Way has 400 billion stars. Assuming each of these stars has 10 Earth-like planets orbiting them, that would be 4 trillion planets.
That single, solitary cloud hovering on the edge of a black hole has enough water to provide for 28 galaxies!
Mind officially blown…